Watchdog Panel Calls for Action to Curb UC Crime

Times Staff Writer

University of California campuses are among the most crime-ridden in the nation and must be made safer, members of the state's Little Hoover Commission said during a public hearing on campus security Wednesday at UCLA.

The watchdog panel, which was established to curb waste and inefficiency in government agencies, began its investigation of safety at the nine UC campuses last fall after a UC Berkeley student was allegedly raped in September by four players on the Berkeley football team. Several other incidents, including the Jan. 10 rape of a UCLA student by two men in a residence hall, spurred the commission's resolve to improve campus security, said Robert T. O'Neill, the commission's executive director.

"In some people's minds, the UCs are sanctuaries," O'Neill said. "That's just not the case anymore."

Commission members cited a 1985 FBI crime report, which ranked UC Berkeley second and UCLA fourth in the nation among state colleges and universities in the number of reported violent crimes. Fifty-six violent crimes, including rape, murder and aggravated assault, were reported at Berkeley and 40 at UCLA, according to the report. Michigan State University in East Lansing ranked first with 84 violent crimes, and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge was third with 49.

After hearing testimony from witnesses, including students and campus security officials, Nathan Shapell, chairman of the watchdog panel, said the commission would attempt to meet with chancellors from each UC campus to discuss the issue. He said that if such a meeting turned out to be fruitless, then the commission would file a report with the governor and the Legislature, and lobby for its recommendations.

Shapell urged the university to spend more money on security. He said the administration now spends about $12 million a year on campus security. However, Walter F. Stover, assistant vice president in charge of planning and development, said UC spends $24.5 million a year on its police force alone.

Higher Salaries Urged

John Barber, assistant vice chancellor in charge of coordinating the nine UC police departments, asked for more money for police salaries. He said UCLA officers are paid at least 20% less than police in local cities.

"The most serious problem we face is retention of qualified personnel," Barber said. "This turnover not only creates a serious morale problem, but we also get people on the street with little experience."

Barber also noted that the FBI report cited by commission members dealt only with state institutions. "USC is not on there, and neither are Columbia University, which is a war zone, and University of Chicago, which is an armed camp," he said.

Stover said the university is studying salary increases for officers at urban campuses. He said UC Berkeley and UCLA have experienced an increase in violent crime because they are in urban areas. Violent crime on the nine campuses as a whole has not increased during the last two years.

"It seems to me to be a tempest in a teapot," commission member M. Lester O'Shea said. "We'd be making a great mistake to blame the university for a general increase in crime in society as a whole."

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