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Violent Crime Skyrockets on UC Berkeley Campus

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday June 12, 2008 - 09:54:00 AM

UC Berkeley became a much more dangerous place last year, according to crime figures released by campus police. 

The major crime increase follows in the wake of controversy over last summer’s rehiring of just-retired campus Police Chief Victoria L. Harrison.  

While figures from the FBI released this week show that violent crime dropped slightly in the city of Berkeley—from 646 cases of assault, robbery, rape and murder in 2006 to 639 last year—it was assault that caused the campus violent crime rate to soar 58 percent over the same span. 

Campus police report that while no homicides were recorded in either year, rapes increased by one (from six to seven) and robberies increased by three (from 24 to 27). The greatest increase came in assaults, which soared from 109 in 2006 to 185 last year. 

When figures for 2005 are added in, reported crimes of violence more than doubled over the three-year span, from 98 in 2005 to 219 last year. 

Firearms weren’t involved in any of last year’s campus assaults, while the use of knives remained constant at two per year. The use of other dangerous weapons doubled, from three to six, while so-called simple assaults scored the largest increase, from 95 in 2006 to 170 in 2007. 

FBI figures for Berkeley report a drop in aggravated assaults from 206 in 2006 to 179 in 2007. 

Property crimes declined both on campus and in the city, though the university logged a stunning 1,000 percent increase in arson from 2006 to 2007, from 1 to 11. Berkeley arsons dropped over the same period, from 36 to 29. 

Berkeley’s property crimes dropped from 7,323 in 2006 to 7,116, while the comparable campus figures were 926 and 853. 

Berkeley’s property crime was showing a slight increase in the first quarter of 2008, Police Chief Douglas N. Hambleton reported in a memorandum to the City Council Tuesday night, up to 1,929 from the prior’s year’s first quarter total of 1,826. 

Though violent crimes in the city dropped during the first quarter of 2008—from 170 from last year’s first quarter to 167 this year—murders are soaring in the city. 

While the city didn’t record any homicides in the first quarter of 2007, Berkeley had already logged three in the same period this year, and that figure has already more than doubled, rising to eight, including one officer-involved shooting. 

The rapidly escalating crime figures aren’t called out for attention in the text of department’s annual report, which notes only that patrol officers “made over 1,000 arrests and issued 1,667 citations for vehicle code violations.” 

Harrison was rehired last summer after taking a $2.1 million lump sum retirement payment, giving up her retiree medical, dental and legal benefits. She was rehired at her base pay at retirement of $175,000 increased by a stipend of $12,700 for her other responsibilities. 

Vice Chancellor Nathan Bostrum defended the action in testimony last month to the state Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education. 

The campus crime figures and the annual report are available online at 

The FBI figures are available at