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Task force recommends full review of UC Davis Police Department

AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock

In this Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, photo University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad Friday in Davis, Calif. Two University of California, Davis police officers involved in pepper spraying seated protesters were placed on administrative leave Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011.

The task force report on the use of pepper spraying of peaceful UC Davis protesters in November included recommendations for a full review of the campus police department, including an assessment by an outside agency of its command structure, personnel numbers and use-of-force protocol.

The report also recommends a review of the police chief's job description, a review to bring the department's practices up to date, and the creation of annual competency trainings and annual performance evaluations.

The 32-page task force report was released online at noon today but the task force held a public meeting this afternoon to present the information and answer questions.

At the roughly 1.5-hour meeting, which was broadcast live from Freeborn Hall at UC Davis, students expressed concern about the lack of specificity in the recommendations and a need for a change in campus culture across the UC system to avoid such incidents. 

The task force also set forth key recommendations at the administrative level. Among its recommendations is that the campus develop rules and policies to regulate campus protests and civil disobedience that defines terms such as "non-violent" versus "active resistance" and "violent" protests. It also recommends that the campus clarify when to use force.

According to the report, the university should clearly state its legal basis for breaking up a protest and identify consequences for breach of rules and policies. The task force also recommends the university's officials clearly outline procedures and protocols for such events in the future.

Staff from Kroll, an investigative firm hired to conduct an independent inquiry into the incident, were unable to talk to officers directly involved in what happened. The report recommends UC review the provisions of the Police Officers' Bill of Rights that seem to limit independent public review of police conduct. The task force report drew heavily on the Kroll report and its interviews of administration officials and police officers.

UC President Mark Yudof said he intends to meet with Katehi to discuss her plans for implementing the report's recommendations.

"Even a cursory reading of the report confirms what we have known from the start: Friday, Nov. 18 was a bad day for the UC Davis community and for the entire UC system," said Yudof in a statement released today. "We can and must do better. I look forward to working with Chancellor Katehi to repair the damage caused by this incident and to move this great campus forward."

Yudof also ordered a review of all 10 campus' use-of-force policiespolice protocol and training, and overall policy on peaceful protests. He said the results of this review is expected in the next few weeks.

The university plans to hold two follow-up town hall meetings to discuss the report.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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