UC President Mark Yudof announced today an independent consulting company will undertake a “fact-finding” investigation of the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students on Nov. 18, and of UCPD protocol regarding campus protests.

UC President Mark Yudof
Photo by Prescott Watson

Footage of students being pepper sprayed by UC Police Department (UCPD) officers as they sit with arms linked on the campus quad at a UC Davis protest has garnered national attention. The attention has brought the UC Police Department (UCPD) under severe scrutiny.

In a release from the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), Yudof said the announcement came in response to a request from UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi that the UC president conduct a thorough review of the event. Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, has also requested an independent investigation of the event.

Yudof has asked UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and Christopher Edley Jr., UC Berkeley School of Law dean, to head a system-wide examination of “police protocols and policies as they apply to protests at all 10 UC campuses,” according to the release.

The examination will involve visits to campuses for discussions with students, faculty and staff, and consultation with “an array of experts.”

William J. Bratton, chairman of New York-based Kroll consulting company, will investigate the pepper spray incident and report back the results to Yudof within 30 days.

Bratton’s findings will be reviewed by an advisory panel made up of students, faculty, staff and members of the campus community, which will make recommendations to Chancellor Katehi “on steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters on campus.” Katehi will then present her implementation plan to President Yudof.

The University of California and Davis Chancellor Katehi have come sharp criticism in the wake of the pepper spraying, both in national media and the academic community.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations condemned the UCPD’s actions in a Nov. 19 press release.

“We demand that the Chancellors of the University of California cease using police violence to repress non-violent political protests,” reads the release. “We hold them responsible for the violence and believe it can only result in an escalation of outrage that holds the potential for even more violence.

Others have publicly called for Katehi’s resignation. According to a banner on the UC Davis English department homepage, the department joins the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for the chancellor’s resignation, and further, the disbanding of the UCPD.

The university placed Campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza on administrative leave pending investigation into the incident, and suspended two officers involved.

Alexander R. Galloway, an associate professor in the department of media, culture, and communication at New York University, said yesterday in a public letter to Yudof and Katehi he will no longer attend a UC Davis conference as he had previously planned, “until Chancellor Katehi takes responsibility for her actions by resigning, and until UC Davis removes its paramilitary police from campus.”

“While my admiration and respect for the great public universities of the UC system remain strong, I cannot in good conscience visit the UC Davis campus in April,” the letter continues. “I cannot support Chancellor Katehi. I cannot support police brutality. And, quite simply, I fear for my own safety were I to visit your campus.”