Report finds UC police should not have used pepper spray on students

By | April 11, 2012

Report finds UC police should not have used pepper spray on students

Our overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying
incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been
prevented.
On November 18, 2011, University of California, Davis, police officers used pepper spray
on students sitting in a line in the midst of a protest and “occupation†on the campus
quad. Viral images of the incident triggered immediate and widespread condemnation of
the police action.
To assist the Task Force with fact finding and the identification of best practices in
policing, the University engaged Kroll, Inc., an internationally known risk management
firm. Kroll completed the final draft of its report on Feb. 22, 2012 (the “Kroll Reportâ€).
The Kroll Report describes at length the events leading up to this incident. In brief, at
approximately 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, 2011, tents were erected on the
Quad at the Davis campus. The Administration decided to remove the tents, instructing
police to do so at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 18, 2011. While attempting to remove
tents, the police arrested several individuals. Subsequently, in the midst of a growing
group of people, the police officers employed pepper spray to remove several students
linking arms in a line across a walkway in the Quad.
The UC Davis protest focused on and drew strength from widespread discontent among
students about the increase in tuition and fees at the University of California. The
incident also took place against the backdrop of worldwide student protests, including
demonstrations by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which triggered similar events
across the nation. These protests presented challenges for all affected universities and
municipalities in attempting to balance the goals of respecting freedom of speech,
maintaining the safety of both protesters and non-protesters, and protecting the
legitimate interests of government and the non-protesting public.
In the immediate aftermath of the UC Davis incident, University of California President
Mark G. Yudof announced the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice
Cruz Reynoso to chair a Task Force to address the pepper spraying of UC Davis students.
This was a result of a request from Chancellor Katehi for an independent investigation to
review the incident and report findings and recommendations to enable peaceful and
nonviolent protests. All Task Force members are either currently or were once affiliated
with UC Davis and most were nominated by relevant campus organizations.

A. There Was a Failure to Investigate Whether or Not “Non-Affiliates†in the UC
Davis Occupy Encampment Were Present …

B. The Administration Decided to Deploy Police to Remove the Tents on Nov. 18
before Considering Other Reasonable Alternatives …

C. The Scope of the Police Operation to Remove the Tents Was Ineffectively
Communicated, Not Clearly Understood by Key Decision-Makers, and,
Accordingly, Could Not Be Adequately Evaluated as to Its Costs and
Consequences …

D. There Were No Clear Lines Delineating the Responsibility for Decision-Making
between Civilian Administrators and Police …

E. There Was Confusion as to the Legal Basis for the Police Operation …

F. The Leadership Team’s Informal, Consensus-Based Decision-Making Process
Was Ineffective for Supporting a Major Extraordinary Event …

A. The UCDPD Failed to Plan for the Intended Action According to Standard
Operating Procedures …

B. Notwithstanding the Deficiencies in the Operations Plan, the Incident Was Not
Managed According to the Plan …

C. The Decision to Use Pepper Spray Was Not Supported by Objective Evidence and
Was Not Authorized by Policy …

D. The Pepper Spray Used, the MK-9, First Aerosol Projector, Was Not an
Authorized Weapon for Use by the UCDPD …

E. There is a Breakdown of Leadership in the UCDPD …

A. The Chancellor Bears Primary Responsibility for the Decision to Deploy the
Police at 3 p.m. Rather than During the Night or Early Morning, Which is a
Tactical Decision Properly Reserved for Police Authorities…

B. The Chancellor Bears Primary Responsibility for the Failure to Communicate
Her Position that the Police Operation Should Avoid Physical Force …

C. Many Members of the Leadership Team, Including the Chancellor, Vice
Chancellor Meyer, and Vice Chancellor Wood, Share Responsibility for the
Decision to Remove the Tents on Friday and, as a Result, the Subsequent Police
Action Against Protesters …

D. Chief Spicuzza Bears Individual Responsibility for Failing to Challenge the
Leadership Team’s Decision on the Time of the Police Operation and for Not
Clarifying the Role the Police were Expected to Play During the Operation. She is
also Responsible for Numerous Deviations from Best Police Practices Both
Before and During the Operation as Detailed in the Kroll Report …

E. (Officer P) Bears Individual Responsibility for Abdicating his Duties as
Incident Commander …

F. Lt. Pike Bears Primary Responsibility for the Objectively Unreasonable Decision
to Use Pepper Spray on the Students Sitting in a Line and for the Manner in
Which the Pepper Spray Was Used …

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