Press Release

Mitchell Celaya chosen as new UC Berkeley chief of police

| 21 July 2009

Mitchell CelayaMitchell Celaya, incoming UC Berkeley police chief (Kalonica McQuesten photo)

Print-quality image available for download

Mitchell J. Celaya III, a University of California, Berkeley, assistant police chief with more than 25 years of experience handling everything from protests, sit-ins and critical emergency situations to visits by world leaders, has been selected as the campus's new chief of police.

The selection, announced today (Tuesday, July 21), follows a nationwide search to replace retiring UC Berkeley Police Chief Victoria Harrison. Celaya will begin his job on Aug. 1.

"I am honored to be chosen as the next police chief here at the Berkeley campus, as I consider the campus not simply a place where I work or a community that I serve, but a part of my extended family that I have taken an oath to protect," said Celaya.

"I bring this attitude and philosophy to how I will lead the police department in addressing public safety, maintaining the peace, and supporting the mission of this great institution. I look forward to continued partnership with the city and have the utmost confidence in the employees that make up the UCPD to achieve our goals and mission."

The police chief sets direction for the department, oversees an operating budget of $13.5 million, and manages 130 police department employees, including 77 sworn officers. Nathan Brostrom, UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for administration, said Celaya is especially well-suited for the job.

"Managing public safety at a campus like UC Berkeley has unique challenges," Brostrom said. "By size and complexity alone, our campus is a small city, with all the attendant public safety issues common to both urban and park-like settings. I believe that Mitch Celaya, with his extensive campus experience, his collaborative style and his commitment to the highest standards in police work, is uniquely qualified to lead the department forward."

Celaya, 48, first joined the UC Berkeley Police Department in 1982 and moved up the ranks from officer to lieutenant to captain, and for the last three years has served as assistant chief. Over the decades, he helped manage some of the campus's most difficult emergency situations, including anti-apartheid demonstrations and mass arrests, People's Park demonstrations and riots; a 1992 assassination attempt on Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien; and the infamous tree sit-in protests that ended in 2008.

Other noteworthy events include his handling of visits by numerous dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former President Bill Clinton, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Celaya has been the recipient of various distinguished service awards, including the UC systemwide Meritorious Service Award for his response to the assassination attempt on Chancellor Tien.

Celaya, who will earn an annual salary of $165,000, will manage a 24-hour operation responsible for preventing and investigating crime, enforcing the law and resolving conflict within the campus environment.

"In addition to faculty, staff and students, on any given day our campus population can include international visitors, dignitaries, protestors, vendors, movie companies and local schoolchildren on field trips," said Celaya. "The chief of police must understand and manage all of these variables in a highly visible environment. I am extremely fortunate to have very professional and dedicated employees to lead."

The police chief oversees a department that fulfills a critical role in planning for and responding to campus emergencies, threats, events and demonstrations. The chief also coordinates departmental activities with other law enforcement agencies at the municipal, county, state and federal levels and works with other governmental agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Energy, on a wide range of issues.

The UC Berkeley Police Department's jurisdiction includes the central campus as well as remote UC-owned property such as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University Village in Albany and the Richmond Field Station.