Six Berkeley officers from the University of California Police Department have been placed on administrative leave, but privacy laws prohibit officials from saying much about it, a UC Berkeley spokeswoman said Thursday.
UC Berkeley spokeswoman Janet Gilmore confirmed, in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry this week, that six UCPD officers are on paid administrative leave. Beyond that, she said in an email, little can be released.
“Please keep in mind that there are multiple reasons why an employee might be on paid administrative leave. Such leave is not punitive and doesn’t necessarily suggest any suspicion or finding of misconduct,” she said.
Gilmore said the university cannot say when the leave began or when it might end “to protect employee privacy.” The officers on leave cannot be identified for a similar reason, she said. Gilmore said she also could not say whether all the officers were put on leave at the same time.
Gilmore cited the state Penal Code as the basis for how little information can be released. That code “has provisions about the privacy of peace officers.” She said Berkeleyside’s inquiry took several days to address because research into the law was needed: “This question doesn’t often arise for us.”
As of March 21, UCPD’s Berkeley office was budgeted for 57 sworn officers, including sergeants and those of higher rank. At the line level, UCPD reported 270 non-supervisory officers in its entire system as of April 2017, including 38 in Berkeley.
Some local police officers who had heard about the UCPD officers on leave said it may have begun months ago, and involved officers on a single shift. They cautioned, however, that they did not have firsthand information. The officers said the leave may have related to a failure to conduct security checks on buildings, and then a failure to be honest when confronted. But, again, they said that was unconfirmed information.
One retired local officer, who said he also did not know the details of the matter, described it as “highly unusual” to have six officers on leave at one time. And he said, speaking hypothetically, any dishonesty in an investigation could potentially result in stiffer sanctions, or even firing.
“The one thing you don’t want to do is to be dishonest in any investigation,” he said. “They drill that into you from day one. You did it, you just tell them, hey, you did it. Let them decide what they want to do with you.”