UC Berkeley hires private security to patrol area around dorms at night

Visitors walk by the Benjamin Ide Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley, Calif., on July 21, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

University of California Berkeley has hired a private security vendor to staff guards outside three of the campus dorm complexes. 

A university spokesperson said three guards from Treeline Security started working on Friday. They will be monitoring the area around residence hall Units 1, 2 and 3, along with Blackwell Hall, on Durant Avenue and Haste Street from 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week. 

"Just like seeing their presence, it makes you feel better that at least there’s somebody there watching," said freshman Dasang Dolma.  

Even without physically seeing the guards, some students feel like they're already helping. 

"There’s always some homeless people that are around here, and we haven’t been seeing them. There’s usually someone sitting in our bike rack, but they’re not there anymore, so we attribute that to the security person," said freshman Alison Nguyen.  

The guards, who are not armed, were hired following a big push from parents, specifically a coalition of about 1,000 parents that mobilized on Facebook.

The group has been putting increased pressure on the city and university following violence in the area and a deadly shooting near campus on October 8. Four people were shot and one was killed near the Bear Basics store on the corner of Telegraph and Durant Avenue

Following that shooting, a KTVU crew saw blood outside the Unit 3 dorm. 

"I definitely feel like they’re hearing us and I think that we’re definitely moving in the right direction," said Kimberly Plummer, one of the core founders of the parent group. She said their goal is to work with the university, city, and police to find long-term solutions to violence around campus. 

"We’re all on the same page here, we all want the same thing," said Plummer. 

In a statement, the university said the hires are temporary "until more UC Berkeley security monitors and UCPD personnel are hired." 

They are expected to be there for at least a month or longer until the university hires trained students to act as security monitors dedicated to the residence halls, two more UCPD officers, and more trained students employed by UCPD to act as community service officers. 

"We believe that the students are not going to be a replacement for a long-term solution, we need more private security there. That’s what we’re pushing for," said Plummer. 

Some students agree. 

"The very least the school can do is hire professional security guards full time. Because at the end of the day if anything happens to the students who are hired eventually, that is ultimately the university’s responsibility as well," said Dolma. 

SEE ALSO: Parents fed up with student safety at UC's residence halls

"We really need like 24 hours security and I don’t know if students would be prepared to take on that responsibility," said freshman Mitchell Lee. 

Plummer said she believes money is one of the reasons the university doesn't want to keep the private security guards, but she is convinced the university has enough money to fund the program long term. 

When asked how much money the new security guards cost, a university spokesperson said they didn't know. 

Plummer said parents are happy the guards are there for now, but believe more needs to be done to keep students safe. They are coming up with more ideas to increase security, including free shuttles to get students back to the dorms, private security on fraternity and sorority row, and putting up gates around the dorms.