UC Davis police chief resigns amid release of critical report

Courtesy of Sacramento Bee

On April 19, Lieutenant Matthew Carmichael was sworn into office as the UC Davis interim police chief in succession of retired Police Chief Annette Spicuzzi. Spicuzzi resigned just a week after the release of the highly critical UC Davis task force report, which reprimanded the miscommunication within the administration and the breakdown in police protocol in response to student protests last November. Spicuzzi had remained on paid administrative leave for several months after the incident.

Carmichael was sworn into office by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who described him as a “highly respected as a leader, adviser and innovator not only within our department and across our campus, but also throughout the law enforcement community.” Carmichael was recognized for his leadership abilities, backed by 27 years in law enforcement, and is now tasked with helping to rebuild the department’s image.

In his first week as interim police chief, Carmichael presented a report which noted that the department would seek to respect campus-oriented values and promote a greater degree of professionalism. In an interview with the Highlander, UC Riverside Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval also spoke of a similar stance when the campus administration was responding to the aftermath of January’s student protests. He noted that administrators from the campus and police department alike must collaborate in “creating an environment for all individuals to express their voice in matters that are important.”

Chancellor Katehi has already begun implementing changes at UC Davis in response to the task force report. One move is a shift in the police department’s home office from the vice chancellor of administrative and resource management to the office of the provost and Executive vice chancellor. The move is based on Katehi’s desire to follow the recommendations contained in the task force report which called for enacting a top-down assessment of the UCD Police Department. “The provost is our campus’s chief academic and operating officer, and this transfer will ensure that, going forward, the department will be closely aligned with our core academic mission and values,” stated Katehi in a press release.

Carmichael, along with Provost Ralph Hexter, will be faced with the task of carrying out an internal affairs investigation. By analyzing a report that had been done by two outside firms, they will determine whether disciplinary action will be taken against the individual police officers who took part in the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident last year. Carmichael and Hexter will also be part of the new senior administration office which will oversee the campus’s response to protests.

The appointment of Carmichael as temporary police chief will eventually lead to a nation-wide search for a permanent position by the end of his one-year term. Carmichael has been encouraged by Katehi to apply for the permanent position, but what will largely determine whether he is suitable will be based on the implementation of new policies and whether they improve campus conditions. Reports that are still underway include a UC system-wide review of police measures in response to protests, suggestions from a senate special committee and an internal affairs investigation.

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