UC Berkeley's Police Chief Offers Terrible Excuses for Her Failure

Failure is at times unavoidable. Circumstances beyond one’s control can occasionally arrange themselves in such a way that makes success in a given task impossible. The mark of a leader is not the absence of failure in his past, it is the manner in which he copes with failure when it occurs.

When things go wrong, the capable leader accepts responsibility, learns from the experience, and adapts his thinking and his organization so the failure does not recur. He does not rationalize the failure and attempt to spin it in the hope that a gullible audience will judge it a success.

Which brings us to last week’s events in Berkeley, where Milo Yiannopoulos was to speak on the campus of the University of California. As everyone knows, Mr. Yiannopoulos’s appearance on Feb. 2 was abruptly cancelled when rioting broke out outside the venue where he was to speak. Black-clad anarchists broke windows, set fires, and attacked people hoping to attend the event. All of this took place as officers from the campus police department watched from inside the building.

Whatever one thinks of Mr. Yiannopoulos (and let it be known I am not a fan), it was once a generally accepted tenet of American citizenship that even people we find obnoxious have a right to speak their minds, especially when invited to do so (the Berkeley College Republicans had invited Mr. Yiannopoulos to the campus). Not anymore. If a sufficient number of thugs can be mustered, and if the police are unable or unwilling to enforce the law, then the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech is subject to the whims of the mob and becomes meaningless.

On the website for the University of California campus police, there appears Chief Margo Bennett’s “Overview and Philosophy,” which includes:

Mission: We are committed to working in partnership with our diverse campus community so together we may enhance community trust, reduce the incidence and fear of crime, and promote safety. We pledge to protect individual rights and safeguard property for our students, faculty, staff and guests. We support the University's academic, research, and public service missions with professionalism, integrity and sensitivity.

On the same page, Chief Bennett claims that her department seeks “to be a leader in campus law enforcement and emergency services -- both by following best practices and by developing standards to which others will aspire.” She further states that her department believes in “truth and honesty” and that it aspires to hold itself accountable.

These are worthy goals. Sadly, on Feb. 2, Chief Bennett failed at all of them.

Clearly, individual rights were not protected and property was not safeguarded. And if Chief Bennett feels she was following “best practices” in permitting the flagrant lawlessness the world saw on the Berkeley campus that evening, I would be keen to learn what they might be. Lastly, in regards to truth and honesty, and in holding herself accountable, here too Chief Bennett failed.