UWG Alumna Named Police Chief at Berkeley

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Margo Akers Bennett, a University of West Georgia alumna, was recently named University of California at Berkeley’s new police chief. Bennett attended and graduated from UWG with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice in 1977 and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling in 1981.

Bennett, who has more than 35 years of law enforcement experience, began her career at UWG’s Public Safety Department, which is now the University Police Department.

“I started my law enforcement career at University of West Georgia and have many fond memories of the friends I made while going to school and working there,” says Bennett. “It was at UWG where I learned the importance of a campus police department that understood the culture of the higher education environment and the value of critical partnerships throughout the campus. I wouldn't trade my experiences at UWG for anything!”

Swain Harris, deputy chief of University Police, was a co-worker and friend of Bennett during her time as detective lieutenant at UWG’s Public Safety in 1980. “We are very proud of her,” Harris says. “She was a good instructor and helped out a lot of people.”

After leaving UWG in 1981, Bennett worked for over a decade with the FBI as a lieutenant over criminal investigations where she trained special agents in interview and interrogation techniques, hostage negotiations and other special skills. She then began working for the Northern Virginia Community College Police Department where she was promoted to the title of police chief.

In 2002, Bennett joined the University of California at Berkeley Police Department as captain, overseeing administrative and management matters, including the recruitment process, selection and training of all UCPD personnel, and development of UCPD policies. She also managed community service work like crime prevention efforts, night safety programs and residential security.

Now, as UCPD’s new police chief, Bennett will supervise and manage 149 employees, which include 66 police officers along with other in-office workers. Bennett hopes to not only be successful in carrying out standard safety and security duties but to also build relationships across campus. She believes that fostering such relationships with students, faculty and staff will lead to more individuals contacting the police department about crimes and suspicious activities, creating a safer environment for everyone.

Photo: Bennett, center front, is sworn-in as UCPD Police Chief. Credit to Kalonica McQuesten, UCPD Marketing.