A new Police Accountability Board (PAB) was implemented by the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD). The panel was established as a pilot program toward the beginning of 2014. The panel consists of members of the UC Davis community, including students, faculty and community members.
The PAB was created in the hopes of strengthening the relationship between the UCDPD and the Davis community. By promoting accountability, trust and communication between Davis civilians and the police department, the PAB will ensure a lesser gap between the police department and the community. The PAB will be serving the community independently from the police department represent the concerns the community may have regarding law enforcement in the Davis area.
Due to the incident in November 2011 when multiple students were pepper sprayed by UC Davis Police during the international Occupy movement, many questioned the trusting relationship between the UCDPD and the rest of the Davis community. The PAB has the potential to mend this gap in trust by allowing the public to have an opportunity to be represented in local law enforcement.
The role of the PAB is to make recommendations to campus investigators regarding filed complaints of misconduct filed against UCDPD officers. This will ensure that the Davis community has some representation and input in the practices of the UCDPD.
“It allows the community to get involved in this process and I think that what really gives it its power,” said Ben Marchman, the PAB member representing ASUCD. Marchman stressed the importance of being able to view the recommendations made by the PAB, but also viewing how the UC Davis police responded given the PAB recommendation.
The campus groups that are represented are Academic Senate, Academic Federation, UCD Health System, Staff Assembly, Graduate Student Association, ASUCD and Student Life. The current members are Jack Chin, representing Academic Senate; Leon Jones, representing Academic Federation; Tamara Cole, representing UCD Health System; Amy Young, representing Staff Assembly; Kevin Peterson, representing the Graduate Student Association; Ben Marchman representing ASUCD and Hazel Quintanilla, representing student life.
At an introductory meeting on May 28, members of the public were able to meet the board members and ask questions regarding the roles of the PAB, the board members shared why they wanted to serve the community as a member of the PAB.
“It’s very clear to me that the quality of police-community relations has a huge impact on the quality of life in that community and I want to do what I can to see if it can be improved,” said Jack Chin, the member representing the Academic Senate.
Amy Young, representing the staff assembly, spoke about how she felt that UC Davis faculty often feel on the outskirts of the community in Davis. As both a faculty member and a Davis resident, Young wanted to use her PAB membership as an opportunity to include the campus faculty in an important process that affects everyone in Davis.
“I want to make sure that the communication to the staff is such that they feel they can be involved in these public meetings and in voicing their concerns and their interactions with the campus,” Young said.
Hazel Quintanilla, the PAB member representing student life on campus, spoke about wanting to bridge the gap of trust between students and the police on campus. She said that many of her friends fear or do not trust law enforcement on campus and therefore do not call the police even if they are in a dangerous situation. She stressed the lack of trust that the current student population has in the UCDPD.
“It [PAB] opens up an avenue where people can place their complaints and actually be heard,” Quintanilla said.
Ben Marchman also offered his ideas on the value of having the PAB for the law enforcement on the UC Davis campus.
“Having these other avenues of interaction between the community and the police, especially among students who make up a very large portion of this campus is very important to be and I hope to be able to express the student opinion,” Marchman said.
Matthew Carmichael, Chief of Police for the UCDPD, said the PAB would allow the trusting relationship to grow with more public involvement in the process of law enforcement on campus.
“For a police department to be successful, there has to be a level of trust with the community and that trust has to go both ways,” Carmichael said.
LAURA FITZGERALD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.