On Thursday, Interim Police Chief Matthew Carmichael was sworn in as the UC Davis police chief. Carmichael will hold the position for one year, after which UC Davis will release a national recruitment call for someone to permanently fill the position.
Carmichael is taking on a difficult job. Former Police Chief Annette Spicuzza retired last Wednesday after five months of paid leave in the wake of the Nov. 18 pepper spraying of students. The relationship between the student body and the campus police force has soured since that event, particularly with the release of the Reynoso Task Force Report.
“My top priority in the next few months is going to be rebuilding the relationship between the police and the campus community,” Carmichael said at the swearing-in ceremony.
A new police chief is not a solution, but an opportunity to enact the solution. If Carmichael keeps his word that officers will be going into the student community to listen to our concerns, then this personnel change could be the beginning of a positive relationship between the campus police officers and students.
However, this all depends on how the administration views its own role in the events of Nov. 18. Spicuzza was not the only person listed as at fault in the Reynoso report; the entire police force and Katehi herself faced a great deal of criticism for their own failures on that day.
Katehi announced at the ceremony that some administrative changes are being made as well. Oversight of the campus police will be moved from the office of Vice Chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management John Meyer to the office of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter.
We recognize Carmichael’s courage in taking on this position at such a difficult time. Though he’s only committed for a year, Carmichael needs to build a relationship with students.
This transition is not the time to celebrate. It is an opportunity to work at legitimately fixing student-police relations on this campus.