Saturday, December 29, 2012

Report of UC Berkeley Police Action

Hat tip Cloud Minder and Daily Californian

Police attempt to break through a line of students on Nov. 9 during the Occupy Cal protests.
Daily Californian

"Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to jail they go"

Below is an article by the Daily Californian, the campus paper of UC Berkeley reporting the results of an investigation into campus police actions at a demonstration on November 9, 2011 in which UCB campus police used batons on a group of student protesters.

Being an adjunct teacher at UC Irvine and a former military policeman, US Customs and DEA agent, I feel qualified to comment.

The use of force by police generally allows the officer to use force that is one step above that being applied by the violator. In a fist fight, a cop is under no duty to get his butt kicked by a bigger and stronger opponent. Thus, he/she would be justified in using a baton-as Rodney King learned in LA several years ago. (The qualification in the King incident is that when resistance stops, force should also stop.) If the suspect is using a deadly weapon, say a knife, then the officer, if he or she fears his/her life to be  in danger, would be justified in firing his or her gun to stop the threat.

 As a federal agent in Customs and DEA, the great majority of the arrests I was involved in came at the moment when a drug transaction was in progress-the moment of greatest danger. Thus, most of our arrests were conducted with guns drawn. That tended to stop any idea of resistance (usually).

It was as an MP that I can more relate with the plight of the Berkeley campus police. When orders to disperse don't work, and you are not able to physically subdue or arrest people, what are your choices? When I was an MP in the 1960s, we were not issued pepper spray or mace. We carried a pistol and a nightstick. Those were our only options if our own physical force (hands) were not sufficient. Thus, in cases where people were actively fighting us with fists (or in some cases, chairs etc)  we were justified in using the baton. I only wish that pepper spray had been available to us then.

The problem for the Berkeley cops was that use of pepper spray had been banned by the campus administration. In the UC system, campus police report to a specially-designated dean for student justice or some such rot. You can only imagine what that means.

So I agree with the findings of the report. I also criticize any professor(s) who were arrested in the incident, and I criticize the professors who started a petition for the charges against the arrestees to be dropped.

The moral to be learned is that when a cop gives you an order, comply. If he or she was wrong, you can complain later. As for the administration, what would you rather have-the pepper spray or the baton?

1 comment:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

The moral to be learned is that when a cop gives you an order, comply. If he or she was wrong, you can complain later.

Often, that is sound and appropriate advice. However, if I woke up to find police entering my bedroom, even with guns drawn, I think that while remaining still and keeping my hands in plain sight, I would politely ask to see their warrant. If they insisted in shouting loudly and profanely demanding immediate compliance, I might courteously ask them if they were prepared to shoot an unarmed homeowner, whose home they had invaded without a warrant. More important, I would ask to speak to the officer in charge. Getting to the person in charge is important in both defusing the situation and adding something new to be considered.

There have been too many cases where officers either burst into a home without realizing that the criminals they were investigating had moved out four months ago, scaring to death the innocent current occupants (rather sloppy police work, not to know), or having mounted elaborate, heavily armed operations, on the uncorroborated say-so of a recently arrested person desperately seeking to mitigate their own culpability, who made it all up.