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Davis, California

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

UC Davis Police Department lowers campus police budget amid COVID-19 campus closure

Students and police chief have differing ideas of campus safety

While the UC Davis campus police budget rose by nearly $2 million from 2019 to 2020, the amount the campus spends on police for its Davis campus could decrease in the 2020-21 school year, according to UC Davis Police Chief Joe Farrow. The overall operating budget is divided between the UC Davis campus and the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento.

The Regents Report on Campus Policing, released July 29, showed that the 2019-20 police budget was $13,393,000 and the 2020-2021 projected budget was $15,121,000. 

During 2019-20, Farrow said $8,550,000 went to the UC Davis campus police, while $6,571,000 went to the Sacramento UC Davis Health campus.

While the report shows a near $2 million overall increase, Farrow said that UC Davis will decrease its Davis campus police budget in 2020-21. The proposed 2020-21 total budget is $15,000,066 – an overall decrease from the projected budget by $120,934; however, this still represents a higher budget than the 2019-2020 school year.  

Farrow noted that while the UC Davis operating budget under this proposal is decreasing, the UC Davis Health campus police budget is increasing. He said that $7,712,000 will go to Davis, with $7,354,000 going to health services in Sacramento in fiscal year 2021.

The Davis campus police department budget is set to decrease in response to the upcoming school year’s decreased student and faculty presence as UC Davis transitions to virtual instruction. Three positions were terminated, two police officers and a dispatcher. 

UC Davis operations — including the Medical Center — lost $120,330,686 during the March 16 to April 30 period. The losses caused many benefits and contracts within the UC Davis Police Department to become absorbed in response to COVID-19 budget changes. 

The budget response therefore allocates more funds than usual to the Sacramento health center campus — where additional personnel are required to maintain successful operations at the hospital. 

“The health services side requested an additional officer to work in the emergency area full time, and that equates to four officers,” Farrow said. “So you’ll see a [budget] increase because that is an increase in some officers that we added on the Sacramento campus, as well as an additional canine.” 

In light of the political climate and UC campus-wide calls for police reform, the police department budget proposal for the 2021 school year has sparked conversation among students.

 Fourth-year political science and philosophy double major Jafar Khalfani-Bey suggested that lowering the campus police budget could allow funds to be allocated to student resources, such as the ASUCD Pantry or lowering tuition.

“I don’t think we should be looking to reform police, I think we should be looking to lessen their presence,” Khalfani-Bey said.

Stett Holbrook, senior communications strategist for the UC Office of the President, said, via email, that UCPD officers frequently participate in trainings for managing implicit bias, de-escalation techniques and non-violent crisis intervention.

“The University of California stands with those demanding an end to police brutality and racist violence, which have no place in today’s society,” Holbrook said. “We recognize and empathize with the sentiment behind calls to defund or disband police departments at UC and across the country, which reflect the rightful call for increased scrutiny of officer misconduct and abuses.”

UC Davis campus police follow President Obama’s 2014 “Task Force on 21st Century Policing” reform and guidelines, according to Farrow. The department also regularly attends Chancellor May’s task force on reimagining policing. 

Farrow said he wanted campus police to prioritize campus concerns and student voices.

“During a very turbulent time in law enforcement, I think it’s really important for us to be good listeners and to adjust and adapt to what’s been going on across the nation,” he said. “The entire incident about George Floyd devastated us. We are so alarmed by what we all saw.”

While the UC Davis police department cannot control the actions of other police departments, Farrow also said the department can control its own narrative by listening to the community and making UC Davis the safest campus possible.

Khalfani-Bey said that taking police off campus would ultimately help him feel safest.“As a Black student, a student of color, when I learn about the police budget increasing by nearly two million dollars from 2019 to 2020, knowing the implications of how people of color are treated by police, it feels like a slap in the face,” Khalfani-Bey said. “I have a legitimate fear that if I interact with a police officer on campus, they might not believe I’m a student. But I shouldn’t have that fear.”

Written by: HANNAH BLOME — campus@theaggie.org


  1. A balanced journalist would have found a quote from another student expressing how they’d feel less safe with a lower police presence. And there are plenty of students who feel that way. So why is your reporting not balanced? Do you find balance to be ideologically challenging? Are you afraid backlash for being an objective journalist?

    • Agreed, a better article would have at least stated some of the reasons why there is a need for campus police in the first place like the increase in transients and vandalism in the area over the last few years. As a student I would feel more unsafe without some police presence. Please do more research, for everyone’s sake and try to look beyond just your own experience. You have an entire data base available to you with the aggies own archives alone. A good reporter does research and gets all the information they can out there for their reader. Overall very informative but it could have been done much better.


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