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UCLA to Create New Campus Safety Office – NBC Los Angeles

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block announced a newly created Office of Campus Safety Sunday to manage policing and emergency management in the wake of campus unrest over pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

The school has been heavily criticized for its response to the violence that broke out at a protest encampment last week, with Governor Gavin Newsom and other elected officials calling for investigations into the university’s response, and some critics even calling on Block to resign before the university would respond. his previously announced plan to resign on July 31.

“Over the past week, our campus has been rocked by events that have disrupted this sense of security and strained trust within our community,” Block said in a message to the UCLA community on Sunday. “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 in the future, urgent changes are needed in the way we conduct security operations.

“I am therefore taking several actions to significantly change our security structure on campus. … Effective immediately, I am moving the oversight and management of the UCLA PD and the Office of Emergency Management from the Office of the Administrative Vice Chancellor to a newly created Office of Campus Safety, whose leader will report directly to me. It is clear that UCLA needs a unit and leader whose sole responsibility is campus safety to guide us through exciting times. This organizational structure, which takes our security and emergency management operations to the next level, has proven effective at other major universities across the country.”

The new office will be led by Rick Braziel, who will serve as the inaugural vice chancellor. He will bring more than three decades of public safety service to his role, including five years as Chief of the City of Sacramento Police Department. Braziel has also served as an instructor in community policing and has led law enforcement assessments and police responses.

Block is also establishing a formal advisory group, whose members include UC Davis Chief of Police and Coordinator of the Council of UC Chiefs of Police Joe Farrow, professor of psychology and health policy and management Vickie Mays and UC Office of the President Systemwide Director of Community Safety Jody Stiger.

“I am confident that AVC Braziel, working with this advisory group, will provide effective new leadership for our security and emergency management operations,” said Block.

UCLA will resume regular campus activities on Monday after classes were moved online Thursday and Friday due to the unrest.

“The campus will return to normal operations tomorrow, Monday 6/5, and plans to remain that way for the remainder of the week,” UCLA announced.

“Under the Academic Senate’s updated guidance on instruction, instructors are encouraged to resume in-person instruction as soon as possible, but may continue to teach courses remotely at their discretion through next Friday, May 10, without requiring departmental approval . Students hear directly from teachers.”

Police moved in and cleared the weeklong pro-Palestinian encampment early Thursday, arresting 209 people. Most of the detainees were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly and then released with instructions to appear in court at a later date.

No significant injuries were reported to protesters or to the hundreds of police officers who took part in the raid.

Disputes between protesters at the camp reached their peak on Tuesday and early Wednesday, when the pro-Palestinian camp was attacked by counter-protesters supporting Israel, who set off fireworks and reportedly deployed pepper spray or bear repellent. The violence led to the cancellation of all classes at UCLA on Wednesday.

“We approached the encampment with the goal of maximizing our community members’ ability to make their voices heard on a pressing global issue,” Block said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“We would have allowed it to remain in place as long as it did not jeopardize the Bruins’ safety or harm our ability to carry out our mission.

“But while many of the protesters at the encampment remained peaceful, the site ultimately became a focus of serious violence and massive disruption to our campus. Several days of violent clashes between protesters and counter-protesters put too many Bruins at risk and created an environment that was completely unsafe for learning.”

However, the evacuation of the encampment provided a broader picture of the extent of the damage to the campus. The front of Royce Hall and Powell Library suffered extensive graffiti damage, some of it profane. Piles of rubbish were also left behind on the former camp site.

The school’s much-criticized response to the violence remained a point of contention this weekend. On Saturday, more than two dozen UCLA faculty members and community activists gathered at the Hammer Museum to call for Block’s resignation, the Daily Bruin reported.

On May 23, Block is expected to testify before Congress about UCLA’s response to anti-Semitism on campus and actions to protect Jewish students.

Meanwhile, the union representing campus police officers at the University of California’s 10 schools blamed UCLA administrators for the delayed response to Tuesday’s clashes and other violence between counterprotesters and people in the pro-Palestinian encampment.

The Federated University Police Officers’ Association said Saturday that UC President Michael Drake’s investigation into the university’s “law enforcement planning, actions and response” should take into account the UC’s own guidelines for responding to campus protests.

“The written guidelines for roles and responsibilities make clear that senior UC administrators on each campus are solely responsible for the university’s response to campus protests; those administrators determine the goal, and campus police are solely responsible for the tactics in implementing those goals,” said FUPOA President Wade Stern.

“As such, the UCLA administration owns all consequences of the response and lack of response to this protest.”

There was no response Saturday to emails sent to UCLA and Drake’s office seeking comment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials called for investigations into the university and police response. Observers said Tuesday night’s attack was allowed to continue for several hours with little to no police intervention, until officers in riot gear finally arrived around 3 a.m. and restored order.

The organizers of the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment, similar to their counterparts at USC, have issued a list of demands calling for the divestment of all University of California and UCLA Foundation funds from companies linked to Israel, along with the demand that the university call for an immediate divestiture of all funds from the University of California and the UCLA Foundation. and a permanent ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas and the beginning of an academic boycott against Israeli universities, including a suspension of study abroad programs.

The UC issued a statement in response, noting that the university has “consistently resisted calls for boycott and divestment from Israel. While the University affirms the right of our community members to express diverse views, such a boycott affects the academic freedom of our students and faculty and the unfettered exchange of ideas on our campuses. “UC tuition and fees are the primary sources of funding for the university’s core operations. None of these funds are used for investment purposes,” the statement continued.