UCLA appoints former Sacramento police chief to lead new Office of Campus Safety

In the midst of a chaotic week on campus which has seen violence, forceful police raids and trade-offs in blame for the events, UCLA’s Chancellor announced Sunday that he’s creating a new office in charge of safety and law enforcement, and he’s appointing a former police chief to lead it.

In a message to the campus community, Chancellor Gene Block said he’s taken action to “significantly alter” the campus safety structure.

“In the past week, our campus has been shaken by events that have disturbed this sense of safety and strained trust within our community,” Block said. “In light of this, both UCLA and the UC Office of the President have committed to a thorough investigation of our security processes. But one thing is already clear: To best protect our community moving forward, urgent changes are needed in how we administer safety operations.”

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Block said the oversight of campus safety and the UCLA Police Department, which previously was under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Administrative Vice Chancellor, deserves to be the sole responsibility of an individual in the university’s administration.

A police officers begins to tear down a pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA on May 2, 2024.
A police officers begins to tear down a pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA on May 2, 2024.

Those feelings led to the creation of the Office of Campus Safety, which will oversee the UCLA PD and the Office of Emergency Management.

In the same statement, Block announced the appointment of Rick Braziel as its inaugural associate vice chancellor. Braziel worked as Chief of Police in Sacramento from 2008 to 2012.

Block said Braziel has served as an instructor in community policing at Cal Poly Humboldt and has reviewed other law enforcement agencies and police responses.

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An advisory group for the new office was also created and consists of the following members” UC Davis Chief of Police and Coordinator of the Council of UC Chiefs of Police Joe Farrow, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Professor of Health Policy and Management Vickie Mays and UC Office of the President Systemwide Director of Community Safety Jody Stiger.

“The well-being of our students, faculty and staff is paramount,” Block said. “These actions are essential for creating a secure environment where everyone at UCLA can confidently pursue their studies and careers.”

Scott Jones, Jan Scully, Benjamin Wagoner, Rick Braziel
Scott Jones, Jan Scully, Benjamin Wagoner, Rick Braziel

The appointment comes as the Federated University Police Officers Association, the union representing the 10 University of California police departments, blamed UC administrators for a poor response to attacks on the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus on Tuesday.

The union claimed that the administration should provide guidelines for the handling of safety situations on campus. Last week, UC President Michael Drake opened an investigation into the UCLA campus police’s response, or lack thereof, to the violence on Tuesday night.

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