Thursday, April 19, 2012

The U.C. Davis Pepper-Spray Report - It Is Worse Than You EVER Could Imagine !

You know how every time somebody in law enforcement does something that looks bad, we're told that we should "wait until the facts are in" before passing judgment? Well, after Lieutenant Pike of the UC Davis Police Department became an internet meme by using high-pressure pepper-spray on peaceful resisters, the campus hired an independent consulting firm to interview everybody they could find, review all the videos and other evidence, review the relevant policies and laws, and issue a final fact-finding report to the university. The university just released that report, along with their summary (PDF link), and the final report is even worse than the news accounts made it seem.

You probably weren't aware that the protesters warned the university that they were going to be protesting two weeks in advance, were you? The campus, and campus police, had two weeks' notice to plan for this, and yes, on day one, one question they addressed was, "What if the protesters set up an Occupy encampment?" Two weeks in advance they planned, well, if they do that, then we'll send in police to remove the tents, and to arrest anybody who tries to stop them. Now, under California law, when planning an operation like this, there's a checklist they're supposed to follow when writing the operational plan, specifically to make sure that they don't forget something important. Had they done so? They would have avoided all four of the important steps they screwed up. When asked about it? Nobody involved was even aware that that checklist existed.

The most important thing that the checklist would have warned them about was do not screw up the chain of command. Let me make clear who was in the chain of command. Under normal circumstances, it runs from university Chancellor Katehi, to campus police Chief Spicuzza, to campus police Lieutenant Davis, to his officers, including one I'll call Officer Nameless. (The report refers to him by a code letter.) Once the cops arrive on the scene, there's supposed to be one and only one person in a position to give orders to the other officers on the scene, including any higher-ups who are there (if any). Officer Nameless, who wrote the plan, was put in charge of the scene by Lt. Pike. By law, the officer in charge of the scene is not supposed to get directly involved. He or she (in this case, he) is supposed to stand back where he can see the whole scene, and concentrate on giving orders, and everybody else is supposed to refrain from giving orders. Officer Nameless instead ignored his responsibilities, and waded in, and so did Lt. Pike; Chief Spicuzza sat in her car half a block away, communicating with the radio dispatcher by cell phone, and at one time or another, all three of them, Officer Nameless and Lieutenant Pike and Chief Spicuzza were yelling out contradictory more