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UCLA police chief reassigned following criticism over handling of campus demonstrations

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UCLA police chief reassigned following criticism over handling of campus demonstrations
News

News

UCLA police chief reassigned following criticism over handling of campus demonstrations

2024-05-23 06:39 Last Updated At:06:40

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned following criticism over his handling of recent campus demonstrations that included a mob attacking a pro-Palestinian encampment.

Chief John Thomas was temporarily reassigned Tuesday “pending an examination of our security processes,” said Mary Osako, UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications, in a statement released Wednesday.

The Daily Bruin reported late Tuesday that Thomas said in a text to the campus newspaper, “There’s been a lot going on and, I learned late yesterday that I’m temporarily reassigned from my duties as chief.”

Neither Osako nor Thomas identified his reassigned role.

The reassignment of Thomas follows UCLA’s May 5 announcement of the creation of a new chief safety officer position to oversee campus security operations.

On April 30, counterdemonstrators attacked a pro-Palestinian encampment, throwing traffic cones, releasing pepper spray and tearing down barriers. Fighting continued for several hours before police stepped in, and no one was arrested. At least 15 protesters suffered injuries.

Thomas told the Los Angeles Times in early May that he did “everything I could” to provide security and keep students safe during days of strife that left UCLA shaken.

But his response was roundly criticized and prompted Chancellor Gene Block to order a review of campus security procedures. Block then announced that Rick Braziel, a former Sacramento police chief, would lead a new Office of Campus Safety that will oversee the UCLA Police Department.

“To best protect our community moving forward, urgent changes are needed in how we administer safety operations,” Block said in the May 5 statement.

Sporadic disruptions continued following the dismantling of a pro-Palestinian encampment and some 200 arrests on April 30.

Block has been summoned to Washington by a Republican-led House committee to testify Thursday about the protests on the Los Angeles campus.

The union that represents more than 250 officers who police the 10 UC campuses criticized Thomas' reassignment.

“The UCLA administration owns the failure of any protest response, and the public should reject their attempts to shift blame to law enforcement,” Wade Stern, president of the Federated University Peace Officers' Association, said in a statement Wednesday. “The response to protests appears ad hoc and devoid of the structured planning mandated by the UC system.”

FILE - Police face off with pro-Palestinian demonstrators inside an encampment on the UCLA campus Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned amid criticism of his handling of campus demonstrations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - Police face off with pro-Palestinian demonstrators inside an encampment on the UCLA campus Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned amid criticism of his handling of campus demonstrations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - Police enter an encampment set up by pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the University of California, Los Angeles campus, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned amid criticism of his handling of campus demonstrations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - Police enter an encampment set up by pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the University of California, Los Angeles campus, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned amid criticism of his handling of campus demonstrations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - Demonstrators clash at an encampment at UCLA early Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned amid criticism of his handling of campus demonstrations. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope, File)

FILE - Demonstrators clash at an encampment at UCLA early Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned amid criticism of his handling of campus demonstrations. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Djordje Mihailovic completed a hat trick for the first time in his career, Zack Steffen posted his second straight clean sheet and the Colorado Rapids beat St. Louis City 3-0 on Wednesday night.

It was the first hat trick for the Rapids since Gyasi Zardes secured one against Minnesota in August 2022.

Mihailovic scored on a header, a left-footed shot and a penalty with his right foot.

An unmarked Mihailovic was first to Sebastian Anderson's long throw in that bounced in the box and he headed it in to open the scoring in the ninth minute. Mihailovic capitalized on another St. Louis mistake in the 60th when he intercepted a throw from goalkeeper Roman Bürki and slotted it home.

Mihailovic sent Bürki the wrong way on a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time.

Colorado (8-7-4) was coming off a dominate 2-0 victory over Austin, with Steffen getting his first clean sheet at home this season.

St. Louis (3-6-9) is winless in its last four home matches.

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

St. Louis City goalkeeper Roman Burki deflects a shot during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City goalkeeper Roman Burki deflects a shot during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Joshua Yaro, left, collides with Colorado Rapids' Kevin Cabral (91) during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Joshua Yaro, left, collides with Colorado Rapids' Kevin Cabral (91) during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Colorado Rapids' Kevin Cabral, left, has a pass deflected by St. Louis City's Joshua Yaro, right, during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Colorado Rapids' Kevin Cabral, left, has a pass deflected by St. Louis City's Joshua Yaro, right, during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Colorado Rapids' Calvin Harris (14) and St. Louis City's Akil Watts battle for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Colorado Rapids' Calvin Harris (14) and St. Louis City's Akil Watts battle for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Eduard Lowen brings the ball down the pitch during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Eduard Lowen brings the ball down the pitch during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Joao Klauss, right, brings the ball down the pitch as Colorado Rapids' Lalas Abubakar defends during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Joao Klauss, right, brings the ball down the pitch as Colorado Rapids' Lalas Abubakar defends during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Tomas Totland (14) and Colorado Rapids' Omir Fernandez (11) chase the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Tomas Totland (14) and Colorado Rapids' Omir Fernandez (11) chase the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Akil Watts and Colorado Rapids' Cole Bassett (23) reach for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Akil Watts and Colorado Rapids' Cole Bassett (23) reach for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Akil Watts, right, and Colorado Rapids' Cole Bassett challenge for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Akil Watts, right, and Colorado Rapids' Cole Bassett challenge for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Chris Durkin, right, and Colorado Rapids' Keegan Rosenberry challenge for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis City's Chris Durkin, right, and Colorado Rapids' Keegan Rosenberry challenge for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Zack Steffen stops a shot during the first half of an MLS soccer match against St. Louis City Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Zack Steffen stops a shot during the first half of an MLS soccer match against St. Louis City Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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