UC Davis Police Association condemns decision to fire officer

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The former UC Davis police officer who used pepper spray against seated students during a protest at UC Davis last November should not have been fired, the UC Davis Police Officers Association contends.

In an open letter to the UC Board of Regents sent Tuesday, the executive board of the association wrote that Lt. John Pike’s employment should not have been terminated in August, though an internal investigation found Pike was justified in his use of pepper spray against students. They added that department Chief Matthew Carmichael disregarded this finding and unjustly fired Pike.

“The internal affairs investigation did not recommend discipline for Lieutenant Pike due to the use of force issue, rather other aspects of the events that day,” the letter reads. “Additionally, the discipline recommendations did not include termination, but rather demotion or suspension. He should not have been terminated from The UC Davis Police Department.”

On Nov. 18, 2011, Pike and another officer pepper-sprayed seated students protesting state-imposed budget cuts to the university. A report of a UC Davis-led investigation released in April — which concluded the pepper-spraying “should have and could have been avoided” — placed individual responsibility on UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi for the incidents and faulted campus police for improperly planning for the “intended action” of the protesters.

Following the report’s release, former UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza stepped down, and Pike was suspended and placed on paid leave until he left the campus in August.

A May report released by UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley called for policy changes in the handling of future protests by both individual campus administrations and police departments.

Yet, in the letter, the police union claims campus police officers were forced into the confrontation with students because UC Davis administration did not plan for the protest properly.

“(UC Davis administration’s decision) caused long-term damage to the University of California and the UC Davis Police Department,” the letter reads. “To this day, not one University Administrator has been demoted or terminated due to their decisions, which placed our police officers and the students of this university into an unnecessary and foreseeable confrontation.”

Amruta Trivedi is the assistant university news editor.