UPDATED to include Davis (see below), 11/20/11
Last night Alameda County Sheriff and Oakland Police were visible at the Occupy Cal protest, but not Berkeley City Police. Why not?
“Berkeley leaders refuse mutual aid agreements” per the Oakland Tribune/SJ MercNews:
Citing excessive force and free speech violations by police during protests in Oakland and at UC Berkeley, the Berkeley City Council this week refused a mutual aid agreement with university police and nixed agreements with other police agencies on regional domestic surveillance.
Council members used news reports of police using excessive force at the Occupy Oakland protests and at previous protests at UC Berkeley as reason for not renewing the agreements that usually are approved each year without fanfare . . .
Other mutual aid agreements with police departments around the Bay Area included in the 900-plus page document before the council were approved as part of the vote . . .
“I think our police do an exceptional job of protecting people’s civil liberties,” (Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse) Arreguin said. “We do a much better job than Oakland.“
Seems prophetic that the decision came prior to yesterday’s brutality. Kudos to Berkeley City Council (in contrast to Oakland’s).
When it comes to excessive force, the similarity between UCPD and OPD (and not Berkeley PD) is shown in recent headlines:
SF Chronicle: “UC cops’ use of batons on Occupy camp questioned,” 11/11/11
“But many law enforcement experts said Thursday that the officers’ tactics appeared to be a severe overreaction. . .
“Sam Walker, a professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has served as a consultant to the Oakland Police Department, said he thought the campus response was ‘unprovoked’ and ‘completely unnecessary.’ . . .
“‘The way they were using it, you’re very likely to hit the groin or kidney,’ he said. ‘I think it is an excessive action and totally unwarranted in the circumstances we see on the video.’
SJ Merc News, “Experts in police use of force shocked by Oakland video,” 11/7/11
Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminal justice professor who’s an expert in police decision-making and use of force, said the video left him “astonished, amazed and embarrassed.”
“Unless there’s something we don’t know, that’s one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Unless there’s a threat that you can’t see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force.”
UPDATE 2 (11/20/11)
Davis Patch: “City PD Distances Self from UC Davis Police”
In a parallel situation to the one above between Berkeley city police and UCPD, Davis City Police want to make a clear distinction between themselves and the brutal pepper spraying of students by UCDPD.
Said Lt. Paul Doroshov of the City’s PD. “While Davis PD officers were called to assist UCDPD officers, they arrived late in the operation, were in a support role only, and used no force on protestors, including pepper spray.”
An Occupy camp has existed in Davis’ Central Park for about five weeks, breaking a city camping ordinance, without confrontation.
“Our job is to keep the peace and protect people,” Doroshov said. “Our actions are dictated by the actions of the protestors. We evaluate the situation based on the overall circumstances.”
Seems like UC Police Departments in general could benefit from adopting Davis and Berkeley City Police training manuals and protocols, since the UCPDs’ by now must be pretty universally recognized as inappropriate in their excessive use of force.
The City of Davis PD does have a mutual aid agreement with the university, but a letter in the Vanguard today (from a former City Councilmember) suggests that agreement should be reexamined.