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by Peter Moskos

April 12, 2012

UC-Davis Pepper Spray

From Jack Stripling in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The pepper spraying of student protesters at the University of California at Davis in November, an incident that provoked international outrage, constituted an unjustifiable use of force in an operation that was bungled by failures of leadership and communication at nearly every level, an investigative report issued on Wednesday asserts.

The damning report, which was commissioned by the university system's president at the request of the campus's chancellor, highlights a series of missteps that culminated in what it calls a "critically flawed" and unauthorized police action.
The report's major findings include [Still quoting the Chronicle but I've added the numbers]:

1) The use of pepper spray "does not appear to have been an objectively reasonable use of force."

2) Davis campus police officers used a type of pepper-spray weapon they were not authorized to use, were not trained to use, and did not correctly use.

3) Davis's chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi, failed to communicate that police officers should avoid using physical force.

4) The command and leadership of the Davis police force is "very dysfunctional."

5) There is little evidence that protesters attempted violence against the police and weak factual basis to support the officers' contention that they felt trapped by a "hostile mob."

6) Davis should develop accepted rules for regulating campus protests and commission an outside review of police protocols.
To that I say: 1) yes, 2) don't know, 3) rings true, 4) ditto, 5) ditto, 6) sounds good, probably bullshit.

I have two other posts on this incident. You can find them 1) here, and 2) here.

You know, one thing I learned at NPIA, Bramshill (the excellent UK police college where I was last semester) was a better way to handle crisis situations. The Brits do it with "Gold," "Silver," and "Bronze" positions of leadership. I don't know if it's the best way. It's probably not the only way. But it's a damn good way to know who is in charge and who is doing what. Now I have not risen through the ranks of a US police department. And I had the wonderful honor of taking part in an international police leadership class in the UK (a very expensive class at that). I was pretty impressed at the UK way. For instance, if you get promoted to a high rank, you go to (and live at) Bramshill and take a 10-week class. That's leadership training.

Because here's the thing... I have the sneaking suspicion that most US police departments have no leadership training. From my experience, it was first officer on scene and then anybody else could pull rank. That is not a plan. That is not leadership.

And yes, as always, please do comment and correct me if I'm wrong.


Anonymous said...

wow, no leadership training!? What about large agencies like the NYPD? I just took it for granted they had leadership training.

-From Canada

PCM said...

There *is* leadership training. I received this in an email:

The NYPD sends captain and above to the Police Management Institute, run by Columbia University and hosted at West Point. The program requires the officers to be in residence one full week a month, for eight months, and work on various projects while they're not in residence. Smaller agencies make use of the FBI National Academy to train their leaders, or the Southern Police Institute's programs. Both are long, residential programs. The NYPD sends officers to the FBI Academy, but finds it more appropriate for mid-level leaders.

Here is the FBI site: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/training/national-academy

And other links:



Anonymous said...

But what about Sgts. and patrol supervisors who directly supervise frontline officers, do they receive any additional training?

Is it just a matter of passing a sergeants exam and then you're given stripes?

-From Canada

PCM said...

They're probably given a nice class in sensitivity training and sexual harassment... but honestly, this is quite literally out of my paygrade. Hopefully somebody making the big bucks that comes with three-stripes can help.

Anonymous said...

You'll get info about that here


indycop said...

Off Topic... Rick Hite is now the interim Chief of Police in Indianapolis. Can anyone give me the lowdown on this guy?