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Former LAPD chief to head pepper-spraying probe

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From page A1 | November 23, 2011 | 10 Comments

William Bratton. Courtesy photo

FILE - This March 3, 2009 file photo, Chief William Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department pauses during an interview in Los Angeles. Bratton said Thursday July 9, 2009 that detectives investigating the death of Michael Jackson are looking at his prescription drug history and trying to talk with his numerous former doctors. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

The former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, William Bratton, will head up a review of Friday’s arrest and pepper-spraying of unarmed Occupy UC Davis protesters.

UC President Mark Yudof asked Bratton to report back within 30 days. Yudof did so in response to separate requests from UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi and Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles.

“My intent,” Yudof said in a news release, “is to provide the chancellor and the entire University of California community with an independent, unvarnished report about what happened at Davis.”

Bratton’s report will be presented to an advisory panel of students, faculty, staff “and other UC community members.” Its members have not yet been named.

That panel will make recommendations to better ensure the safety of nonviolent protesters to Katehi. She, in turn, will present to Yudof a plan for implementing changes, according to the news release.

One of the country’s best known lawmen, Bratton, 64, led the LAPD from 2002 to 2009. He previously served as police commissioner in New York City and Boston.

More recently, Bratton has launched a global security firm, Altegrity Risk International, and been tapped by British Prime Minister David Cameron for advice in curbing gang violence in that country.

Bratton’s selection to lead the review may prove to be a controversial one with student protesters.

Speaking in an August interview with The Telegraph newspaper, after rioting in England, Bratton said police should have “a lot of arrows in the quiver.” He advocated a doctrine of “escalating force” with weapons including rubber bullets, Tasers, pepper spray and water cannons, the paper reported.

“In my experience, the younger criminal element don’t fear the police and have been emboldened to challenge the police and effectively take them on,” Bratton told The Telegraph.

In Los Angeles, he earned praise from city officials for the falling crime rate there, as well as a grudging respect from some critics for outreach to the black and Latino communities.

When Bratton announced his resignation, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa credited him with transforming the LAPD “into a beacon of progress and professionalism, a department seen as a partner, not an adversary, no longer bound by the misdeeds of the past.”

Bratton’s time in Los Angeles was not without controversy for the department, including a clash with unarmed protesters.

The city paid $13 million to settle lawsuits and took disciplinary steps after officers at a May 2007 immigration rally fired foam rounds into a crowd, instead of at the ground in keeping with policy, and struck protesters and journalists more than 100 times with batons, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I’m certainly not proud of the event, but I am proud of the report,” Bratton told the Times on Tuesday, adding, “I am looking for a similar report that will give a truthful and objective, candid account of the events” at UCD.

Bratton will lead one of four planned investigations related to the UCD incident.

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is also investigating whether excessive force was used; the UCD Academic Senate is planning a probe; and Katehi said Tuesday that an outside firm would be providing a departmentwide review of UCD’s police.

Yudof also named UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley Jr. to lead a systemwide examination of how all 10 campuses deal with nonviolent protests.

“We are moving forward to identify what needs to be done to ensure the safety of students and others who engage in non-violent protests on UC campuses,” Yudof said. “The right to peaceful protest on all of our campuses must be protected.”

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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Discussion | 10 comments

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  • SandyNovember 22, 2011 - 7:21 pm

    "In my experience, the younger criminal element don’t fear the police and have been emboldened to challenge the police and effectively take them on,” Bratton told The Telegraph. Between that statement and the $13 million his department had to pay in settlements to some or all of the 100 protesters who were beaten in a 2007 LA protest, I think we all know where this is going to end up. What a sham.

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  • AigeantaNovember 23, 2011 - 1:29 am

    Wait, is this the same William Bratton of PERF, the NGO which organized conference calls with police chiefs around the country to coordinate the occupy raids? Perhaps he is not the best choice for this investigation, as there might be a conflict of interest.

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  • Time to recall all of themNovember 23, 2011 - 7:49 am

    This is a slap in the face to the peaceful people of our nation. This thug is in charge of an investigation? Someone who supports the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons? LAPD has military vehicles in it's arsenal. The people are effectively taking on the police because the police have abused their power, and the people have lost their trust in them. People should not be afraid of their police. The police are just citizens like you and me. Nothing more, nothing less. Police can be effectively taken on peacefully. This is a right we have, don't let anyone make you think for a minute that isn't your right. The people want criminal charges brought against those police that break their oaths, and assault peaceful humans. A jury comprised of people pepper sprayed illegally seems about as fair as crooked cops investigating other crooked cops. You don't get that far in any law enforcement agency without turning blind eyes and actively covering for the people you work with and yourself. That's all the state is doing, getting one of their best white washers on the case! Stand up America, let your voices be heard. We are the people, and we have the power. We just need to remind them. Stay peaceful, stay steadfast, stay vigilant.

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  • Ben FrayterNovember 23, 2011 - 11:24 am

    I am outraged by the pepper spray incident. It was completely unecessary to violently attack those peaceful demonstrators. They were tortured with painful chemicals just for exercising their freedom of speech. All of the officers involved should be fired.

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  • Rich RifkinNovember 23, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    Shouldn't the person leading the investigation of state employees be Kamala Harris, the Attorney General? I would think the imprimatur of her office would lend credibility to whatever AG Harris would determine.

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  • Greg KuperbergNovember 23, 2011 - 9:03 pm

    I do not know whether Bill Bratton is the ideal person to independently review the actions of the UC Davis police department last week. For all I know he's a reasonable choice. However, it is incidentally almost an honor to have someone like him have any connection to Davis or UC Davis. Bratton was the police commissioner who oversaw the NYPD in the years when the homicide rate in New York City dropped by a factor of 4. It did also fall in other cities, but not nearly as much. New York City's per capita homicide rate crossed places in the years with one city after another. It even crossed places with Sacramento, even though Sacramento does not have a high homicide rate for a city of its size. I credit Bratton with helping save the lives of thousands of people --- people of all races who live in New York City.

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  • Rich RifkinNovember 23, 2011 - 10:22 pm

    I suspect this Duke study is hooey, but I found this quote on Wikipedia: "In Chapter 8 of Punishing the Poor (published by Duke University Press) sociologist Loic Wacquant summarizes the evidence that Bratton's strategies did not lead to a drop in crime in New York City." FWIW, Bratton was carrying out Mayor Giuliani's policies. So the principal credit or blame for them should fall on Rudy, not Bill.

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  • Greg KuperbergNovember 23, 2011 - 10:47 pm

    I don't believe the Duke study either. As for Giuliani, I really don't see the point of achieving anything at work if your boss deserves more credit than you do for merely asking you to. Giuliani frequently and famously stepped forward to take credit for the crime reduction, in fact it got so bad that in the end he fired Bratton over exactly that point. But Giuliani never explained how his "policies" were ever anything more than four words, "reduce crime" and "here's money". Many other mayors have had exactly the same "policy", but without someone like Bratton to help them, they haven't succeeded. It was Bratton who designed the real policies.

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  • Luke DanielsonNovember 24, 2011 - 2:41 am

    Forget it: this man may or may not be a decent person, but he will never achieve the necessary public trust for this role, and public trust is what we need.

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  • Deanna BeelerNovember 29, 2011 - 9:13 pm

    • • Wikipedia says he traveled a lot, accepted gifts, and signed a book deal while in office. Bratton has said “Very early on in people’s lives you have to have them understand that ... anti-social behaviour, will not be tolerated." NEW YORK: Young thugs and gang members should be made to ''fear'' the police and the prospect of serious punishment for acts such as looting, British Prime Minister David Cameron's new crime adviser says. Bill Bratton, the former New York police chief, said many young people, especially gang members, had been ''emboldened'' by over-cautious policing tactics and lenient sentencing policies. Losing public confidence in its ability to provide security - through force if necessary - created ''incredible difficulty'' for a police force, Mr Bratton said. To be effective, a police force should have ''a lot of arrows in the quiver'', Mr Bratton said, advocating a doctrine of ''escalating force'', where weapons including rubber bullets, Tasers, pepper spray and water cannon were available to police. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/zero-tolerance-advice-to-pm-20110813-1irxk.html#ixzz1fA6KeEfQ

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