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Mitch Celaya: New top cop

Campus assistant police chief picked to run department

| 27 August 2009

Mitchell J. Celaya III, a campus 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, was selected as the new chief of the UC Berkeley Police Department in July and began his new job Aug. 1, replacing retiring Chief Victoria Harrison.

mitch celayaMitch Celaya (Peg Skorpinski photo)

"I consider the campus not simply a place where I work or a community that I serve," says Celaya, "but a part of my extended family that I have taken an oath to protect. 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."

The UCPD chief sets direction for the department, oversees an operating budget of $13.5 million, and manages 130 employees, including 77 sworn officers. Celaya now runs a department that fulfills a critical role in planning for and responding to campus emergencies, threats, events, and demonstrations, as well as in maintaining public safety on and near the campus.

Celaya, 48, joined UCPD in 1982, moving up the ranks from officer to lieutenant to captain; for the last three years he 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.

Chief 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 Tien.