A group of frustrated parents at UC Berkley have raised $40,000 to hire unarmed security guards to monitor city streets around the California campus after continued concerns of rising crime.

Parents and community members of SafeBears, a nonprofit organization started in 2022, raised $40,000 at the end of 2023 to launch a pilot program to implement security guards in the surrounding area of the California college. 

SafeBears’ pilot program was launched on March 6, the organization said in a release.

Six security guards from Streetplus, a private contractor, are patrolling five routes around the campus on foot and by bicycle from 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily. 

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According to SafeBears website, organization leadership said that they worked with a private contractor on the final steps of the programs.

The organization said that the private contractor worked on providing security service to crime-ridden areas like Oakland and San Francisco.

University of California, Berkeley campus

SafeBears said that the security guards will not be armed during their patrol, but will have radios to call the Berkeley Police Department if needed.

“Our Streetplus ambassadors will not carry pepper spray, batons, handcuffs, or any other defensive equipment,” the website said. 

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“Their role is to provide a physical deterrence to any threats against students. If they encounter a situation they feel is escalating, they are equipped with radios and can call for other ambassadors to assist,” the website said. “They also have a contact at Berkeley Police Department in the event the situation turns more serious.”

The security guards will also be available to escort students to other areas if requested, SafeBears said.

UC Berkeley's Sather Gate

A spokesperson from UC Berkeley raised concerns about the effort to Fox News Digital and noted the campus’ own efforts to keep people safe.

“Hiring private security raises a number of concerns including the training and experience of individuals hired by such firms,” the spokesperson warned. “Further, any security effort on the campus must be coordinated with UCPD, independent of the funding source.”

The spokesperson contested that funding can best be used in other ways.

“We believe that university funds are better spent hiring more sworn or non-sworn UCPD officers for standard daily response efforts. Parents who want to donate funds toward additional campus security can do so via a university fund that has been established,” the spokesperson wrote, “We do not believe that private security should take precedence over hiring sworn officers. In addition, a holistic approach to campus safety is required and is the most effective approach.”

Fox News’ Alexander Hall contributed to this report.



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