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UC Berkeley parents hire private security to protect students from crime

Parents point to increase in local robberies, trespassers in residence halls

University of California at Berkeley students are seeing more security officers on campus this month after a group of frustrated parents said they raised the money to hire them.

Parents with the group Safe Bears hired six private security guards, or “safety ambassadors,” to patrol the campus from 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., according to the group’s website.

Sagar Jethani, a parent of twin boys at UC Berkeley, told CBS News concerned parents took matters into their own hands after the university ignored their repeated requests.

“The fact is if they’re not going to act, despite repeated pleas from parents and students to take more substantial action, then we’re going to act,” Jethani said. “We’re going to do what needs to be done to keep our family safe.”

The additional security began March 6 and will continue through March 23, according to the Safe Bears website. The parents raised more than $40,000 to fund it, the website states.

Jethani said they hope the university will continue with their security plan after that.

“We want to, frankly, turn up the heat with the administration,” Jethani told CBS News. “We want to show that we’re not content to just wait forever to have these safety ambassadors deployed.”

Among the parents’ concerns are a 20 percent increase in local robberies, trespassers gaining access to residence halls, threats, and violence, according to the Safe Bears website.

One student told CBS News crime has grown worse on campus:

Rebekah, who declined to provide her last name, studies electronic engineering. She arrived in Berkeley in 2018 and felt safe on campus and in the city but, in the last two years, she’s been the victim of two armed robberies.

“I was parking in my driveway and, as I was unlocking the door, two people approached me from behind,” she said. “One came to the driver’s seat. One came to the passenger seat. They pointed a gun at me and told me to get out of the car.”

She lost her personal belongings and her car.

The university told CBS News in a statement that it is adding more surveillance cameras and new community service officers trained by campus police, and it may hire more police officers in the future.

Other schools, including Temple University in Philadelphia, also have been met with parents’ calls to increase security due to concerns about violent crime.

Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota witnessed a 38 percent drop in crime after increasing police in 2021, The College Fix reported. The action came after three students were shot earlier that same year.

MORE: Murderer of UC Berkeley student receives 25 years in prison

IMAGE: David Stuart Productions/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.