Calif. university may merge campus police forces

By Matt Krupnick
Contra Costa Times

BERKELEY, Calif. — The University of California is considering merging the UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco police departments under common leadership.

With each campus facing state budget cuts of up to $100 million, the proposal could lessen the effects on academics and key operations at the two schools, said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Although no decision has been made, administrators have discussed having one chief for the two departments and combining some operations, such as training and recruitment.

The discussion comes as UC Berkeley police Chief Victoria Harrison prepares to retire next month. Although the university had announced that two finalists to replace Harrison had been chosen, Mogulof said the search has been suspended.

University leaders want to be sure that the merger will not affect campus safety before making a decision, he said.

"This is solely because of the severity of the campus budget cuts," Mogulof said. But "cost savings alone won't be enough to trigger this."

The university declined to estimate how much money the change could save. UC San Francisco representatives could not be reached for comment.

"We are entering this process without any predispositions," UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Nathan Brostrom told MediaNews in a written statement. "We will evaluate the analysis on its merits, and weigh the benefits against the challenges."

In a letter to the campus this week, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Provost George Breslauer warned employees to brace for severe cutbacks this year. Cuts at each campus unit will average 20 percent over the next two years, they said.

Employees at both the UC and California State University systems have been told to expect pay cuts in the coming months, despite higher student fees and federal stimulus money that will offset some of the budget cuts.

Copyright 2009 Contra Costa Newspapers

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