The University of California, Davis has announced a ‘defunding’ of its police department, eliminating three vacant positions and switching three sworn officers to more ‘non-traditional’ roles.
The change was inspired by a task force, established last summer during widespread unrest after the police killings of George Floyd and others, to decide ‘how the university’s Police Department should evolve to look, operate and engage.’
It comes a decade after an infamous 2011 incident where campus police pepper sprayed students who were sitting on the pavement as part of an Occupy protest.
The university, located just outside Sacramento, had 134 total crime incidents in October, including one forcible rape and 82 cases of theft.
UC Davis, just outside of Sacramento, announced it is ‘defunding’ its police department and retraining sworn officers as ‘non traditional’ staff that will roll up in electric vehicles
The college says the changes are in response to last year’s police killings and unrest, along with a 2011 incident in which officers pepper sprayed Occupy protesters on campus
In a statement last Tuesday, the university said it will ax three vacant police jobs.
Instead, it will divert the funds to hire a public safety policy analyst in Student Affairs; an analyst position to support data, accreditation and transparency efforts in the police department; and a new position dedicated to the Health 34 initiative – which trains fire personnel to respond to mental health calls.
Three current sworn officers will be retrained as ‘CORE’ officers.
‘When called, an officer in plain clothes will arrive in an electric vehicle or on a bike. The officer will be able to answer questions and concerns, advise on a range of law enforcement issues, and connect you with the resources you need,’ according to a UC Davis page on the CORE program.
Last year, the Next Generation Campus Safety Task Force – made up of students, faculty, staff and alums – began meeting to discuss the ‘future of policing’ after ‘the horrible police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a growing number of African Americans,’ according to the school.
As part of the task force’s recommendations, the school began the process of ‘defunding,’ or redirecting funds away from, the police department.
On Thursday, anti-police protesters on campus vandalized sidewalks in support of the move
A cardboard cutout of a pic outside of a campus building reads: ‘We will outlive policing’
In October, the 8.3 sq mi campus had at least 134 crime incidents, including 82 cases of theft, 13 cases of vandalism, five cases of forcible entry, three simple assaults and one forcible rape.
In 2020, it had 565 cases of theft, 100 burglaries (up 16 percent from 2019), three forcible rapes, one robbery with a dangerous weapon and two aggravated assaults.
On Saturday, photos from the Twitter account UC Davis #CopsOffCampus posted a photo of what appears to be a cardboard cutout of a pig in front of the school police department. The cutout read: ‘We will outlive policing.’
On Thursday, the account posted more photos from an anti-police protest, featuring the words, ‘PUNK*** ACAB PIGS,’ scribbled in chalk on the floor.
Along with the other changes announced last week, the university has amended its procurement policy to not accept any tactical gear from the Department of Defense, though the department had never done so.
It has also earned accreditation from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, a group ‘grounded in President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing,’
The school cited the notorious 2011 pepper spraying of student protests who were part of the Occupy movement, a left-wing movement that began in New York in 2011 as Occupy Wall Street and was meant to highlight income inequality and the outsized influence of large corporations and the financial sector.
In the video, students sit on the ground on campus and hide their faces as Lt. John Pike and another officer glibly pepper spray them in an effort to remove them after they were asked to leave multiple times.
The 8.3 sq mi campus had at least 134 crime incidents in October. Above, a tweet from an anti-police group on campus
The university then paid a firm at least $175,000 in 2013 ‘to expedite the eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor,’ according to documents obtained by the Sacramento Bee.
‘The university recognized and the Reynoso Task Force Report confirmed in its first paragraph: “The pepper spraying incident that took place on Nov. 18, 2011, should and could have been prevented.”
‘However, this horrific incident became an opportunity as UC Davis enacted progressive measures to reform campus policing (for example, officers no longer respond to protests) and safety, and addressed student needs overall,’ the school said Tuesday.
Last year, homicides in California shot up by 31 percent, slightly higher than the national increase of 29.4 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gun deaths also rose to account for three-quarters of all homicides in the state last year, up from 69 percent the year before.
Since the pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown, California has been losing people to other parts of the US.
Over the past decade, more than six million people have left – with only 4.9 million Americans moving to the state. The rate of arrivals from abroad also fell sharply.