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UCLA Police Chief John Thomas ‘temporarily reassigned’ from duties

UCLA Police Chief John Thomas told the Daily Bruin Tuesday he had been “temporarily reassigned” from his duties as chief. (Courtesy of UCLA)

By Sharla Steinman

May 21, 2024 11:45 p.m.

This post was updated May 24 at 2:21 a.m.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more information. 

UCLA named Gawin Gibson as acting chief of the UCPD on Wednesday after former Chief John Thomas was “temporarily reassigned” Monday.

Gibson has worked in UCPD for over 28 years, most recently as UCPD’s operations bureau captain. He also received his doctorate in education from the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education in 2021.

Thomas’ reassignment comes as UCLA’s newly formed Office of Campus Safety examines security processes, said Mary Osako, vice chancellor for strategic communications, in an emailed statement. Thomas allegedly canceled requests for outside police assistance from other campus departments, in the days leading up to the April 30 attack on the Palestine solidarity encampment, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“As we said on May 5, UCLA created a new Office of Campus Safety that is leading a thorough examination of our security processes aimed at enhancing the wellbeing and safety of our community,” Osako said on Wednesday morning in the emailed statement.

Thomas said late Tuesday that he had been “temporarily reassigned” from his responsibilities as chief. He added that he learned of the news Monday.

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

Chancellor Gene Block will testify Thursday about antisemitism and UCLA’s handling of the Palestine solidarity encampment on campus in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. Representatives from Northwestern University and Rutgers University also will appear in front of the committee. 

Block established the Office of Campus Safety on May 5 and named Rick Braziel its inaugural associate vice chancellor, overseeing UCPD and the Office of Emergency Management. Braziel served as the City of Sacramento’s chief of police for five years and has more than 30 years of public safety experience, Block said in a campuswide email. 

Thomas did not elaborate or respond to a question asking where he had been reassigned. 

He was appointed UCPD chief in January after serving as interim chief since December 2022. Thomas attended UCLA from 1980 to 1984.

[Related: John Thomas named as UCLA’s new chief of police]

He previously served as police captain, assistant chief, executive director and chief at USC’s Department of Public Safety. At USC, he also served as a special advisor to the senior vice president for administration.

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Sharla Steinman | City and Crime Editor
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
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