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Former acting Capitol Police head to lead Berkeley campus PD

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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The former acting head of the U.S. Capitol Police following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot will be the next chief of campus police at the University of California, Berkeley, officials announced Monday.

Yogananda Pittman will begin leading the campus force in February, replacing retiring Chief Margo Bennett.

Pittman takes the role after 21 years with the U.S. Capitol Police, a career capped by six months of service leading the force following the insurrection.

“Chief Pittman’s remarkable record of achievement and her steadfast commitment to reform and social justice make her perfectly suited for this essential leadership role on the Berkeley campus,” Chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement.

Pittman was named acting U.S. Capitol Police chief after Steven Sund, who was leading the force during the riot, was forced to resign. Pittman had previously led intelligence operations for the force, including leading up to Jan. 6, a role she returned to after she lost out on the chief’s job.

She was the subject of a vote of no confidence from the officers union and faced questions from members of Congress about why the force hadn’t been better prepared for supporters of former President Donald Trump to storm the Capitol.

Pittman announced last week she was retiring from the Capitol police.

The Berkeley campus has long been known as a hotbed of counterculture, political activism and protest. There, Pittman will lead a team of about 140 officers, according to the university.

Campus leaders acknowledged the tensions that exist around policing on campus and in the community, including the recent demonstrations over the future of People’s Park.

Pittman, in a statement, said she will spend her first 100 days have meetings with “all of the entities that have a vested interest in safety and security on campus” to better understand people’s concerns.

“To achieve change, it helps to have leaders who have deep professional experience, but who also know the perspective of people who have been on the receiving end of unfortunate encounters with law enforcement,” she said.

She will also work on a campus security reform program that began in 2020, which is partly aimed at improving how the university responds to people in mental health crises, according to the release.

Article Topic Follows: AP California

Associated Press

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