Sometimes, when “all the facts are in,” it’s worse: UC Davis Pepper Spray Report

UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike pepper-sprays Occupy UC Davis protesters who were blocking attempts by the police to remove arrested protesters from the Quad (Source: The Aggie; Photo Credit Jasna Hodzic)

The Infamous Brad’s blog post title (above) is an apt comment on what’s contained in the UC-Davis report on the events leading up to the infamous use of pepper spray on peacefully protesting students last November that was released last month.

Before assigning administrative, police and  individual blame, the Reynoso Task Force began its introduction to the report with this sentence:

Our overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented. 

From Brad:

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 university administration and the campus police were unprepared and disorganized. The list of their failures and bad judgement from start to finish is staggering. More from Brad:

But before it even came to that point, the student protesters had, with the help of Legal Services, gone over all the relevant state laws, city ordinances, campus ordinances, and campus regulations and concluded that no matter what the Chancellor thought, it was entirely legal for them to set up that camp. When the university’s legal department found out that Chancellor Katehi was going to order the camp removed, they thought they made it clear to her that the students were right.

Obviously they didn’t make it clear. Brad again:

I kept having to stop and slap my forehead over that one repeated phrase in the report: (this person or that) was under the impression she had made it clear that (some order was given), but nobody else present had that impression. Anybody who is “under the impression that they made it clear” that some order was given who who didn’t put it in writing and who hasn’t had that order paraphrased back to them? Should be slapped. Or at the very least demoted. Unless you actually said it, you didn’t “make it clear.”

Once upon a time, I naively imagined that simple competence was commonplace. Sadly, I know better now–it’s the exception, not the rule.

Update: Annette Spicuzza, the UC Davis police chief has retired, effective April 19th. Next?