The results from the pepper spray task force chaired by former California Supreme Court Associate Justice Cruz Reynoso were released publicly Wednesday at noon. The task force held a meeting for the public in the afternoon to discuss the findings.
“We aren’t making anyone happy with our report. We find there is a lot that should have happened that didn’t happen,” Reynoso said during his introduction.
The report covers the event and and gives recommendations to the campus, administration and police force, based on the Kroll Report, a report conducted by a risk management firm.
The ultimate conclusion of the report was that the event could have been mitigated.
“The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented,” the report states.
The report states that the use of police was decided upon before the administration considered alternative options, and that other options seem “almost self-evident.”
“Delaying the deployment of police to remove the tents for even a few days would have provided campus administrators more time to carefully evaluate the nature and scope of the problem, more time to carefully evaluate the costs and consequences of different university responses to the encampment and more time for discussion, negotiation, and mediation with the protesters to attempt to defuse the situation,” the report states.
The report also states that the pepper spray used was not an authorized weapon for use by the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD), and that there was no evidence that showed that UCDPD officers had been trained in using the pepper spray.
This idea was discussed during the public meeting.
“How did they get it? Do they have other weapons that they’re not trained in and they’re not approved [to use]?” said Bob Ostertag, professor of technocultural studies at UC Davis, at the meeting.
While the task force did not have a direct answer to these questions, it was said that the task force’s recommendation for a full UCDPD review should ask these questions.
The report also states that Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi bears the primary responsibility for the decision to deploy the police in the afternoon, rather than early morning or during the night. The report also stated that she failed to communicate her position that the police should avoid using force against students.
The report also places responsibility on other administrators.
“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,” the report states.
The report also gives recommendations for the Administration and Leadership Response, saying the campus should develop a broadly accepted agreement on rules and policies that regulate campus protests and instances of civil disobedience.
“We recommend to the administration, the Chancellor and the leadership team that they develop rules ahead of time to how they will act when there is civil disobedience,” Reynoso said.
The report also recommends that Chancellor Katehi make use of outside parties to help review the UCDPD protocols and procedures.
Members of the audience had many questions about the place of police on campus. Some asked whether the task force believed that there should be police on UC campuses, while others focused on the training and selection of police.
“We recommend better training for officers when they’re working on a campus; the role of a police officer on campus is really quite different than in other locales,” Reynoso said.
The report also gives recommendations for the entire UC system.
“The Task Force recommends the University of California study, evaluate and adopt policies involving the training, organization and the operation of UC Police Departments to ensure that they reflect the distinct needs of a university community and utilize best practices and policing adapted to the characteristics of university communities,” the report state.
Finally, the report gave a recommendation to the campus that all community members follow the Principles of Community.
Some members of the public questioned the power of the report, and asked why no specific recommendations for punishment had been made.
The task force responded that while they could make general recommendations, UC President Mark Yudof asked them not to make specific recommendations about the punishment of individuals.
“The reality of this is that we [the task force] were charged with pointing the finger at who messed up, saying how they messed up and why they messed up,” said Tatiana Bush, a member of the task force and a fifth-year political science and sociology double major. “We’re not the implementers of change.”
The release had been delayed multiple times due to a request from the police union representing the campus police to withhold the names of the police officers involved in the report.
Reynoso has been vocal from the start that he wanted the report released as soon as possible. Many members of the public brought up the issue of the delay during the meeting.
Some members of the public also brought up a current issue on campus regarding the 12 students who have been charged for the U.S. Bank protest.
Students who took place in the blockade of the U.S. Bank last quarter are facing charges of 20 misdemeanors. Some of these students were among those involved in protests on Nov. 18.
“Why, when the reports were being delayed, [are we] still being harassed by the same administration, harassed and threatened by the same police force, and now being prosecuted and arrested by them?” asked Geoffrey Wildanger, an art history graduate student.
Chancellor Katehi, who was not present at the meeting, sent an e-mail to the UC Davis community thanking the task force.
“I am gratified that the Reynoso report is available to all of us as we continue efforts to make UC Davis a model for tolerance, inclusivity and constructive, spirited dialogue,” Katehi said in the e-mail. “We all can learn from the difficult events of last November; this report will help us do that.”
The full report can be read here.
HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX