UC Berkeley Fires Six Campus Police Officers Caught Hanging Out in Library

BERKELEY — UC Berkeley fired six police officers Tuesday for sleeping and hanging out on midnight shifts in a campus math library.

The firings occurred after a hearing officer upheld Chief Margo Bennett’s decision to terminate the officers, who had been on paid suspension since Oct. 31, according to multiple sources who spoke with the officers Tuesday. The officers will now take their cases to arbitration, the sources said. They have not been publicly identified.

A university spokesperson, Janet Gilmore, declined to discuss the situation, citing state law that keeps police personnel matters secret from the public.

This news organization reported in May that the six officers were facing termination for gathering at night in a small math library in Evans Hall, a building in the middle of campus, after radioing in that they were checking buildings elsewhere. They were administratively charged with lying. The Alameda County District Attorney’s declined to charge the officers with time theft.

A seventh officer, Lawrence Green, resigned as the investigation unfolded. He’s claimed that he became the primary focus after he filed a whistleblower complaint with the university’s chancellor against the chief. In the complaint, he alleged Bennett was sexist in hiring and promotional decisions and was an “absentee chief” who often worked from home.

“There is no accountability for bosses at UC,” Green, a retired Oakland Police lieutenant, said Tuesday.

Bennett did not return a phone call Tuesday. The officers’ lawyer also didn’t return a message.

Civil right attorney John Burris said while the number of firings is significant the message is more important — officers who lie should be terminated.

“That goes to the integrity of the officers and the integrity of the work,” Burris said. “A number of things could have happened when they didn’t check (buildings) when they should have. It’s one of the most important functions they have at the university, checking buildings.”

One retired UC Berkeley officer said he thinks the firing is overblown. Cops need downtime said the former officer, who asked not to be identified because he does contract work for several departments in the region.

“You can’t be expecting officers to be going for 100 mph for 10 hours a day,” he said. Ducking into a place like the math library to rest is common on midnight shifts, he said. “It’s fine as long as you are answering radio calls.”

But retired Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker’s said the key thing to the case is that officers lied about their location.

“There are some behaviors or misbehaviors that would pretty much end your career in law enforcement. One of those being if you are found culpable for lying. Basically you’ve lost any credibility as a prosecution witness,” Tucker said. “It’s a character flaw. It’s an integrity violation.”

He said the number of officers fired for a single incident is large, especially for a small force. The UC Berkeley Police has fewer than 40 sworn officers.

“That’s a big number particularly for that department,” said Tucker who also served more than 30 years with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office before coming to Oakland. “At least in Northern California, it’s the most I’ve heard of at one time.”

Source: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/07/17/uc-berkeley-fires-six-campus-police-officers-caught-hanging-out-in-library/