Margo Bennett has been announced the new UCPD chief of police, according to a campuswide email distributed Thursday morning.
Bennett has been serving as interim chief since former chief Mitch Celaya retired in December. The nationwide search for a new police chief resulted in 71 applications, which were eventually narrowed down to four candidates. Along with Bennett, the candidates were Rhonda Harris (chief of police at Old Dominion University), Eric Heath (deputy chief of police at the University of Chicago) and Nate Johnson (chief law enforcement officer for the California State University system).
“We evaluated a number of solid candidates and it became clear that Margo Bennett was the right choice,” said Associate Vice Chancellor of Business and Administrative Services Ron Coley in a statement. “She has an understanding of the culture of our community and the workings of the department that will prove invaluable as we institute the type of significant changes that are necessary to achieve our goals of exceptional security and service.”
Bennett has been with UCPD for more than a decade and has had 35 years of law enforcement experience, according to the statement.
The lengthy selection process involved an “inclusive process” in which finalists “met with a wide cross section of stakeholders, including faculty students, police officers, administrators, staff, community members and others,” the email release states.
Among the most significant concerns for students during this process, however, was UCPD’s contentious history during the recent Occupy protests and other major campus incidents.
UC Berkeley junior James Chang, who was involved in Occupy Cal and ran for ASUC Senate, said that UCPD’s role in the November protests still remains a pivotal issue and that he hopes the new chief will strive to prevent similar incidents.
“I would like to see this new chief of the UCPD pledge to make sure that the violence we saw from police officers in November 2011 does not occur again,” Chang said.
The email release states that Bennett is dedicated to developing a “more approachable and transparent culture” in campus policing.