UCD Police Chief Fills in Some Details on Shields Library Incident

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The Vanguard met with UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael on Monday, and, while the Chief could not answer specific questions about the August 26 arrest of former UC Davis student Fayia Sellu, he did provide details that serve as critical context to the incident.

In the early morning hours of August 26, police responded to a call about a suspicious individual who alleged entered the 24-hour reading room of Shields Library without the use of a key card. Mr. Sellu was asked to step outside the library.

Accounts vary at that point, with the police claiming in their report that Mr. Sellu refused to talk, while Mr. Sellu maintains he cooperated – only to be forcibly arrested upon existing the room. Mr. Sellu has filed a complaint alleging, among other things, excessive force.

Chief Carmichael made it clear: “I can’t speak to the specifics (of the incident) and I haven’t seen the investigation yet.”

However, he described the UC Davis Police Accountability Board as “unique,” not only among college campuses but in the state, comparing it to the civilian review board of San Francisco and Berkeley.

The investigation is performed by a university investigator through the Office of Compliance. Chief Carmichael explained, “What’s unique to this process is the police department openly and freely shares all information with the office of compliance.”

“They have access,” he said. “That’s pretty rare. What’s unique about that is that provides the outside investigator the opportunity to provide a thorough, factual and truthful investigation.”

When the investigation is complete, it goes to a Police Accountability Board – seven individuals. While the Chief wasn’t sure the exact number, “We have seen a rise in our complaints.” He believes that this is due to the fact that they now have “an open process that actively engages.”

Not only “have we seen a rise in the complaints,” he said, “but we can see that trend for a little while, but I think after two years, maybe three years of having seen that trend level out, you should be coming back here and saying” that, while it is good to get people to report their complaints, the number of complaints need to be declining.

One question that arose during the alleged incident involving Fayia Sellu is how frequent it is for the police to be called for illegal access to the 24-hour reading room.

“I don’t think it’s often,” Chief Carmichael responded. “I don’t think it’s often enough.” “It isn’t frequent,” he said, saying that people are arrested for what they call “tailgating.” This often happens in their housing as well, where a student “cards in” and someone uses that to gain access.

He said that they have increased their student patrols because, as he explained, “I have students there at 3 in the morning and it’s secure for a reason.” He said, “Those students believe that when they’re studying there, that they’re surrounded by like students.”

The Chief did not dismiss the notion that I could tailgate and gain access to the 24-hour reading room and no one would call the police. He said, “I don’t doubt it… This concept of tailgating has haunted security for the last 100 years.”

He added, “I understand where you’re coming from. What I would like to believe is this: we’re an extremely diverse and universal community. We have the brightest minds on the planet here, it’s an amazing place. I would hope that, as a community – and as a police chief, I don’t hope it, I direct, and I direct our police that we treat people fairly and equally and our community acts the same way.”

He added, “Tailgating from a security perspective is a common challenge.”

Right now Chief Carmichael stated that we don’t know who called the police. The investigation should allow us to know, but right now it is not something that is known.

He added, “For me, I believe in our process. I’m waiting for it.”

But Chief Carmichael noted that the 24-hour study room is not staffed by library personnel, “That’s why the card access is in place.”

For the police to come to the 24-hour reading room, the Chief explained, “for the officers now, it’s mostly based on a call, however they do what we call a walk-through.” However, the primary security is “completed by our student security officers” or Aggie Hosts.

The Vanguard asked the Chief if they get frequent complaints about thefts, harassments, and assaults in the 24-hour study room. He responded, “There are not frequent complaints about it. Again that’s the reason for card access.”

Mr. Sellu told the Vanguard that, as a former student, he has often utilized the 24-hour reading room on the side of Shields Library to do late night reading and studying. He told the Vanguard he had seen the two officers enter the reading area, but thought nothing about it as he was soon absorbed in his reading – when he discovered the two officers were standing directly over him.

The officers said he refused to leave, but Mr. Sellu told the Vanguard that, when the officers approached they asked for identification and that when he reached into his pocket to get that identification, they asked him to go outside rather than attempt to resolve the situation inside.

He told the Vanguard that he willingly went outside in order to clear up the matter. However, at this point, the demeanor of the officers changed. There was no mention in either report about the manner or speed of the arrest.

Chief Carmichael could not address at this time whether Mr. Sellu was forcibly removed from the reading room or the scene in general. He repeated, “I’m waiting for the investigation.”

He said that these reviews are averaging between 30 to 60 days – we are already more than a month after the incident occurred in late August. The Peace Officer Bill of Rights allows police organizations up to twelve months, but the Office of Compliance is in the 30 to 60 day range. The Police Accountability Board meets monthly and can meet more frequently if needed.

Chief Carmichael explained that most complaints the department receives and, in fact, that most departments receive, regards “code of conduct.” The officer was not police, the officer used profanity, the officer didn’t explain the situation well enough at the time, for instance.

He said that, while they are not a majority, he does get complaints that the stop or arrest “is based on a person’s ethnicity or race.” He said that beyond the complaint process he has open communication with the community. “I know that we still struggle as a police department where students of color have presented to me that they still feel racially profiled by the UC Davis police department.”

After four years, he said, “I’m still working to address the topic of ensuring that all of our students see us as a resource.” He said, trust “doesn’t exist today, that doesn’t exist for some members of our community.”

In short, he said that there is not an overwhelming amount of formal complaints based on disparate treatment by race. But the complaint does exist and he is hoping that, by working with the students, they can reduce its frequency.

In the meantime, he is awaiting the results of the formal investigation so we can learn what happened and what went wrong with the arrest of Fayia Sellu.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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121 thoughts on “UCD Police Chief Fills in Some Details on Shields Library Incident”

  1. Tia Will

    I am very glad to hear about the independent review process used by the University police. One point in particular struck me as peculiar.

    The Peace Officer Bill of Rights allows police organizations up to twelve months but the Office of Compliance is in the 30 to 60 day range. The Police Accountability Board meets monthly and can meet more frequently if needed.”

    I am amazed by the amount of time allowed to pursue the investigation. I have only my own organization for comparison, however, the time line for investigation is remarkably shorter. For complaints not involving malpractice, say a patient complaining that she was treated insensitively by a physician, the time line for investigating and commenting on that assertion is two weeks. For complaints involving disputes between members of the medical staff such as the creation of a hostile work environment, the time line is similarly under one month. Medical malpractice cases can take longer given that review of outside records and obtaining independent medical expertise is sometimes warranted. However, a year for such a police investigation …… why ?

    I cannot help but wonder if the extended time line of up to one year is not an indirect means of deterring an individual from pursuing a complaint by simply dragging it out beyond his or her ability to follow up.

     

    1. PhilColeman

      Fair question, and allowing a year to complete any investigation is generous in the extreme.

      Calling on vast experience in monitoring any investigation, the longer the deadline, the longer the completion time. An alternative option would be to change the legislation to say, “With all practical haste,” or similar, and then mandate that an investigator log of activity be part of the completed investigation. Most investigations of this nature could be completed in a week or two if sufficient incentive was present.

  2. zaqzaq

    Tia,

    You are mixing apples with oranges.  The chief indicated that it normally takes 30-60 days for the review process.  It would seem to be more efficient to bring the investigation to the review board on regularly scheduled meetings which are monthly.  The one year is the time allowed by statute.  What is the time allowed by statute for the complaints you described for patient complaints?  My personal experience with medical malpractice is that the employee lied about what happened after we made the complaint and then they challenged the injury.  The doctor’s office circled the wagons and called the lawyers.  We eventually settled for some significant money after going through a deposition and being questioned by a rude young lawyer.  There was no apology for the preventable injury and the corporate medical machine marched forward making more profits.  This is just one of many incidents involving employees in the medical field that my family has suffered through.  Doctor’s medical review boards are more secretive than internal police investigations concerning allegations of misconduct.  The theory for the doctors is that an honest discussion about what went wrong is important to preventing a future incident regardless of the injury to the patient (victim).  The results from these reviews are concealed from the patient to protect the doctor from a lawsuit.  So please do not sing the virtues of the medical community because that has not been my experience.

    1. Barack Palin

      I agree Zaqzaq, my wife went through a bad situation with her doctor and hospital.  She was knocked during a surgery and it was amazing how the othe doctors circled the wagons and covered for the doctor who did it.  We went to the hospital to get her records and the next thing we know that same doctor was getting summoned over the PA.  We were there a long time and finally asked where our records were and was told that the doctor had them at his office.  We went to his office and gave him a piece of our mind and he said it was protocol that when a records request was made that they were sent to the docs first to go over.  Funny, my wife had many docs over the years, why did he have them? I’m with Zaq, don’t tell me either about the virtues of the medical community.

      1. Frankly

        Kaiser might be better at the customer complaint vetting than other hospitals… which probably explains why Tia would step in it a bit with her medical industry allegories.  She seems to live a bit in a Kaiser bubble.

    2. Tia Will

      zaqzaq

      I guess that you missed the part of my post where I stated that I was not talking about malpractice claims at all but about other types of investigation such as complaints about the doctors demeanor. I do not think that this is an apples to oranges comparison at all and Phil Coleman with his thoughtful response.

       

       

       

  3. Davis Progressive

    tia: no offense, i agree with you more often than not, but sometimes your attempts to pick a parallel to the medical profession are not helpful.  in this case, the university is doing the right thing in creating a robust investigation unit that is actually independent.

    but i diverge from critical points specific to sellu.

    so now we know that police calls for tailgaters are rare events.  we know that it was a student who called the police as that is generally how these patrols occur. we know that the library is unstaffed in this room at this time.  we know that there is no a problem with harassment, assaults, or theft that warrant the need to call the police for a tailgater.  and we can surmise that the reason the police were called is that this is a black man.  no more excuses on this.

    what we don’t know and hopefully the investigation will tell us is whether sellu was uncooperative – police say he was, he claims to have witnesses who say otherwise and we don’t know about excessive force.

    1. Tia Will

      DP

      in this case, the university is doing the right thing in creating a robust investigation unit that is actually independent.”

      And how did you think that my points differed from yours ? I strongly support a robust investigation by an independent unit. It is the length of time allowed for the investigation that I was questioning.

  4. Barack Palin

    and we can surmise that the reason the police were called is that this is a black man.

    No not at all, “we” can’t surmise that, but I know “you” will.

  5. Topcat

    …and we can surmise that the reason the police were called is that this is a black man.

    The reason the police were called was that there was an unauthorized individual who tailgated to get into a controlled access facility.  Calling the police was the correct thing to do.  I certainly hope and expect that the police would have been called regardless of the trespasser’s race.  We should not be saying that because someone is black, they should be allowed to break the rules.

    1. Davis Progressive

      no.  the reason the police were called was that there was an unauthorized BLACK individual who tailgated.  they don’t get called in general for tailgaiters.

      1. Topcat

        the reason the police were called was that there was an unauthorized BLACK individual who tailgated.

        I know the you think that race was a factor, but I don’t see it that way.  The central issue was that an unauthorized individual (regardless of race, age, or appearance) was in a controlled access facility.

        1. Topcat

          the central issue (for me) is that for some reason this guy and not other guys got the police called on him – why?

          Perhaps there were not any other guys tailgating to get unauthorized access to the controlled access facility?

        2. failsafe

          Davis Progressive wrote:  “the central issue (for me) is that for some reason this guy and not other guys got the police called on him – why?”

          This guy went many times (by his own account) and nobody called during those times.   Maybe somebody finally got tired of him sneaking in all the time.   Having studied myself there many times, also late at night, you begin to see the same late-night people.   If I saw this guy continually sneaking in, or waiting outside the door for someone to open it, I may eventually report him.  You cannot get into the facility by mistake.   I think most of the comments here, including the tone taken by the Vanguard, is from the perspective of people that have never actually used this facility.

        3. Davis Progressive

          “Perhaps there were not any other guys tailgating to get unauthorized access to the controlled access facility?”

          that’s not what the police chief said.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          David and DP assume the police were called because he was black.

          I had the police called on me 6 years ago, I was doing nothing illegal, and I am not black. It was a simple dispute, a woman called the cops, and I had the police officer eating out of my hand within seconds by my non-threatening, open, polite, compliant attitude.

        5. Davis Progressive

          i don’t believe david has made an assumption about that.  i have reached that conclusion.

          tbd: you seem to not understand the issue at hand here.  it’s not a matter that people don’t call police on white people, it’s a question on this situation as to whether they do.

      2. Barack Palin

        the reason the police were called was that there was an unauthorized BLACK individual who tailgated.

        No, the reason the police were called was there was an unauthorized individual tailgated who happened to be BLACK.

        1. Topcat

          No, the reason the police were called was there was an unauthorized individual tailgated who happened to be BLACK.

          Yes, I would expect that the police would have been called regardless of the guy’s color;  he could have been white, black, brown, green, blue, or purple. There are rules established for a reason and everyone needs to follow the rules.  We should not be saying that some people should be allowed to break the rules just because they look a certain way.

        2. Davis Progressive

          “No, the reason the police were called was there was an unauthorized individual tailgated who happened to be BLACK.”

          how do you know that?

        3. Barack Palin

          how do you know that?

          The same way you seem to know that he was approached because he was black.  Why are you pushing this?  Why do you always push this?  I’m there with you if there’s a clear cut case of racism, but to take cases where you have no idea if race played a part and still try and push it is just wrong.

        4. Davis Progressive

          “Yes, I would expect that the police would have been called regardless of the guy’s color”

          the question is not whether you expect the police to be called in a given scenario, we know they are rarely called, the question is whether they are called regardless of color.

           

        5. Davis Progressive

          “The same way you seem to know that he was approached because he was black. ”

          let’s do the math.  they don’t get calls for complaints about tailgating very often.  they know it happens a lot.  someone called the police this time?  so what makes this one different than all others?  black male?  it would be helpful to see the racial breakdown of the people cite for tailgating, but i think i have a pretty solid basis for my conclusion.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I don’t see how you can shrug it off so easily, even the Police Chief acknowledged the possibility that race played a role in a potential reporting of this incident.

        6. Tia Will

          DP and BP

          Unless you have inside information, neither of you actually knows which hypothesis is correct. Having been able to “tailgate” or otherwise finagle my way into closer parking spots when called in at night for ER coverage, I strongly suspect that gender/race/ or some other aspect of this individuals appearance may well have been a part of why he was singled out. However, I would never assert knowledge that I do not have as the truth the way you both are doing.

          Cannot we not accept that this is a possibility, let the investigation take place and then solidify our positions based on some actual information ?

        7. zaqzaq

          DP is demonstrating his personal prejudices and biases in his conclusion that the only reason the police were called was because the man was black.  He is like the boy who called wolf in these issues.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The problem is that no one here can discount that as a possibility. The boy who cried wolf was intentionally fabricating a falsehood. That is clearly not what DP’s doing in this case even if you believe he is very narrowly interpreting the situation.

  6. hpierce

    I see three issues.

    1.  Is the lack of reports involving “tailgaters” due to a failure to report it?  If so, I see that as a serious problem.

    2.  Given 1) was the guy singled out due to race/appearance, etc. ?

    3.  Was the guy physically mistreated?

    I am most concerned about issues 1) & 3), not so much about issue 2).  But issue 2) is still a valid issue, but I’d prefer reporting and dealing with issue 1).

    1. Davis Progressive

      so the police acknowledge there is no problem in terms of incidents, but you still consider (1) the most important issue?  i understand rules are rules, but people utilizing this space don’t seem to be causing a problem – there are no assaults, thefts, etc.  so why create a problem where there is none?

      1. Topcat

        i understand rules are rules, but people utilizing this space don’t seem to be causing a problem

        So I can break whatever rules I want to as long as it doesn’t cause a problem?  That opens up a whole world of opportunities for me.

      2. failsafe

        I used to study there a lot, late at night.  It was creepy when people would “tailgate” their way in.  I always thought “should I alert someone?” when I saw it.   I was also in there late one night when someone starting yelling.  Also upsetting.   A 1am phone call has to be treated seriously.

        1. Frankly

          Thanks for sharing your real experience.  I wonder what the same people complaining about law enforcement’s actions would have been saying if an unauthorized person came in and hurt of killed someone?  Probably still complaining about law enforcement actions.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Frankly, that is exactly what has happened downtown. Unsavory characters have been frequenting our nightlife but few said much about it, or there was no action taken. Now we have a promising young man killed.

  7. Anon

    In the meantime, he is awaiting the results of the formal investigation so we can learn what happened and what went wrong with the arrest of Fayia Sellu.”

    Nothing may have gone wrong with the arrest of Fayia Sellu.  He may simply be playing the race/police brutality card because the got caught doing something illegal.

    I had this done to me one time as a junior college math instructor.  A student was talking in class and being particularly rude/disruptive, and I called him on it in front of other students, as I would any other student (talking in class almost never happens in junior college by the way – when a student pays for his/her education, talking in class is not usually a problem, as compared to the public school system grades K-12 (I have taught in both)).  The next thing I know this student is down at the dean’s office claiming he was singled out and disciplined because of his race.  I explained what happened in class to the dean, and the student got nowhere with his bogus claim of racism.  He was failing the class by the way… no surprise.  If you talk instead of listen to the instructor, there is a good chance you won’t do well in class.  Duh!  Not to mention the student was making it difficult for the rest of the class to learn!

    For me, the only issue here is if there was excessive use of force by the police.  This guy was in the library illegally – period. A student called the police because they must have known this guy sneaked in which creeped them out.  If I were a female student alone or semi-alone with a guy that sneaked into the library by tailgating, I’d call the police too.  And as far as I am concerned, I would be justified.

     

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Nothing may have gone wrong with the arrest of Fayia Sellu.  He may simply be playing the race/police brutality card because the got caught doing something illegal.”

      what does he gain by doing that?  he wasn’t charged with a crime.  he filed a complaint.  the investigation will make a determination as to what happened – hopefully.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          If you paid attention to his posts you would realize his concerns are very personal based on the treatment he witnessed of his mixed race daughter. You can probably add to that the treatment he saw by the police of his clients. You guys are very dismissive of the notion that people are color continue to be treated very different from white people in our community. That’s troubling to me.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Wouldn’t that depend on the findings of the review process? I see no reason for him to fabricate a story and based on my discussions, I believe him to be sincere.

    2. Topcat

      This guy was in the library illegally – period.

      Yes, this is the central issue.  It doesn’t matter what the guy’s race is.  It also doesn’t matter how many other people may have gotten away with trespassing or how many times in the past Mr Sellu was trespassing.

      I do hope that this incident will mean that every instance of tailgating is reported to police and all trespassers are ejected.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I’m sorry it does matter if the law is unequally applied. We don’t have the data on it yet, but to say the only thing that matters is that he was there illegally when according to the chief it is exceedingly rare that someone call them for tailgating.

        1. Topcat

          …. it does matter if the law is unequally applied.

          Yes, I agree that the rules need to be applied equally.  Perhaps the lesson to be learned and applied from this incident is that illegal access and tailgating must not be permitted.  University staff need to take measures to assure 100% compliance with the access rules.  It would seem that video monitoring of the access doors would be an important measure to prevent future episodes like this one.

  8. Alan Miller

    The police were called and responded.  It is possible, and impossible for us to know, that the person who made the call has several parameters that feed their “suspicious person meter” and the race parameter is turned up way too high — OR NOT.  We don’t know. 

    What is absolutely true is that the police have to respond when they get a call.  If there are members of the public who make a judgement to call the police who have their race parameter up way too high — i.e. are racists, that isn’t the fault of the police; the police aren’t going to selectively remove calls to respond to because they are in response to a so-called “person of color” in order to even some imaginary playing field. 

    Yes, there are racists in Davis: how many?  I don’t know, and neither do you, and neither would we define them the same.  Does it suck?  Yes.  I agree that it sucks that “persons of color” gets more calls of this sort directed against them because of real racists.  But there is nothing you, I, the police or any Davis Utopians can do about it.  Nothing. 

    Thankfully, young people are showing much more tolerance of people different from them (except for the whole privilege-microagression crowd — but that’s a different, if related, topic), so eventually most of the old racists and other-ists will die off and we’ll slowly achieve a “better” society. Unless ISIS crosses the Atlantic.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Your discussion is really misplaced. We’re really not talking about racism here, but unconscious bias. Can we know? I think we can when/ if we get data on such calls.

        1. Alan Miller

          no you weren’t.  you talked about racism, you never mentioned unconscious bias

          Not by name, but that’s what I’m talking about.  By the way, what’s your name “Davis Progressive”?  You don’t seem to have mentioned it.

        2. Davis Progressive

          why does it matter alan miller?  you wouldn’t know me if you ran into me on the street.  the only reason i know you is you get up in front of council and make absurd ironical comments.  my job would preclude me from posting under my own name.  i prefer not to get fired in order to suit your sensibilities.

        3. Alan Miller

          why does it matter alan miller?

          That’s Mr. Alan C. Miller to you.  It matters because those who are anonymous can say things that those who are not anonymous can’t, without consequences.

          you wouldn’t know me if you ran into me on the street.

          You have a way of making my point for me, but I’ll keep my eye out for a government-paid lawyer with a “mixed-race” daughter and a chip on their shoulder.

          the only reason i know you is you get up in front of council and make absurd ironical comments.

          Again making my point.  You can insult me personally from your pulpit of anonymity and suffer no consequences for being a jerk because the readership doesn’t know you.  If some of the anonymous didn’t insult people personally I would be less adamant.  But several of you don’t stop with simply giving the occasional inside information that “The Vanguard” craves, but actually use the anonymous position to insult without consequence.  Those who identify themselves as who they are can insult me until the cows come home.

          my job would preclude me from posting under my own name.

          No, it doesn’t preclude you , but you may suffer the consequences, if any, if you spoke certain truths on particular topics.  When you have a particular job, stand up, have the courage to be and identify yourself, and use your best judgement in knowing where to draw the line.  Don’t hide behind the cloak on anonymity and spew insults at people.

          i prefer not to get fired in order to suit your sensibilities.

          I prefer you just don’t post.

  9. Frankly

    Everyone that cares about living a life where we get along with our neighbor and community members and enjoy reasonable freedom of oppression from those bossy people obsessed with a drive to control everything about the world around them should loudly and vehemently shout down anyone suggesting “unconscious bias”.  In fact, let it be known that you will absolutely discriminate against anyone holding the belief of unconscious bias.  Demonstrate to them that this idea will not be accepted, will not be tolerated and is worthy of SIGNIFICANT scorn.

    Just think about the Pandora’s box of crap we get into with everyone able to demand their accusation of unconscious bias be accepted.  That is the next progression for the PC crap “micro-aggression”.  Claim.  “He looked at me in a way that made me feel unsafe, therefore his is clearly exhibiting micro-aggression and unconscious bias and should be expelled from this public organization!”

    Ninnies, whiners, wimps, hypersensitive people unable to cope with standard human-to-human relationships are in need of help, not tools to layer on constant passive-aggressive retribution on everyone else.

    And then there are those that leverage these destructive tools for political and monetary gain.

    Disgusting.

      1. Frankly

        I’m sensitive to anyone getting unnecessarily slammed to the ground by the police, I am just not willing to immediately and routinely claim racial motives for it.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          I’m sensitive to anyone getting unnecessarily slammed to the ground by the police”

          Well now that is an interesting statement from someone who defended the actions of an inebriated off duty police officer in throwing another individual through a front windows in a bar room brawl. And please do not deny this as you and I exchanged multiple posts on that issue.

           

    1. Frankly

      By the way, if “unconscious bias” is such a real thing, then it cuts the other way… people projecting racial motives on what are normal human-to-human encounters just because the existence of racial difference.   In fact, if “unconscious bias” really does exist, it is more likely on that side of the argument given that there is little social or media risk/challenge to people holding that view.   While a cop having to question or detain a black suspect would absolutely be processing very real and conscious risk that his/her actions will be claimed as being racially-motivated.

      1. Davis Progressive

        that’s not unconscious bias.  if you think that people being exposed to repeated racial incidents makes them more sensitive to more questionable incidents – i agree.

    2. Jim Frame

      Ninnies, whiners, wimps, hypersensitive people

      How could anyone ever consider Frankly insensitive?  Why, he’s fairly dripping with sensitivity!

        1. Frankly

          I’m sensitive to unfair treatment when it is evident… in this case it is not.  I am not very sensitives to name calling since I have been called almost everyone in the book.

        2. Davis Progressive

          i don’t understand – and i have to after this so i’ll read your response tomorrow.  if people were calling the police all the time and this man had the police called on him, it would make sense to me to look for other variables.  but given that they don’t call police on tailgaters, don’t you concede that the reason that they might have is that a black man subsconsciously seemed more of a threat than another person in that same situation, just as your former employee probably incited a lot more fear than a white person would have in the same situation?

        3. failsafe

          People were not calling police before on this exact same man, as he had gone many times before.    Therefore maybe it wasn’t the color of his skin.   Who knows?

        4. failsafe

          I feel this case is a bad example, and when using a bad example to demonstrate a larger social ill, it dilutes the case for justice, no matter how well the intention.

        5. Frankly

          I feel this case is a bad example, and when using a bad example to demonstrate a larger social ill, it dilutes the case for justice, no matter how well the intention.

          Bingo.

          That is the main problem here… most of the examples we see by others trying to make their case of racial bias in law enforcement are bad.  The stories are full of holes and the claimed victim has a record of behaving badly.

          The racism claim is terrible.  It demands a high bar.  The bar being used here is so low that it appears to be underground.

        6. tribeUSA

          Re–Frankly: The racism claim is terrible.  It demands a high bar.  The bar being used here is so low that it appears to be underground.”

          Yes, I agree–serious accusations require at least scanty evidence rather than pure speculation. It seems that clear acts of racism are so rare that the activist community has to desperately project racism onto almost any negative social encounter that a ‘person of color’ might experience. We have the case of Dylan Root shooting up the black church, a clear act of racial hatred by a deranged white man; and the case of the black man who shot-up the white TV reporters; a clear act of racial hatred by a deranged black man. So we agree that racism does exist at some level in society; however such actions are thankfully so rare that they do merit major media attention when they occur. By the way I don’t disagree entirely with notions of unconscious bias on a level that is small with most people but large with a smaller number of people, it likely is a real phenomena, not only with regard to race, but a whole enormous range of other factors, many of which are of comparable or larger influence than that of race–and by the way; I would contend that it is more accurate and useful to model such biases as cultural biases rather than racial biases.

  10. Frankly

    repeated racial incidents, or simply human encounters that they project as having a racial connection because they have a racial connection.

    I had a big black man working for me.  He worked the swing shift as a computer operator for a large central bank located in Sacramento.  He was a very nice guy… a sweet guy.  But he was big, dark and had a very low voice.  One morning I come into work and get summoned to HR to listen to a complaint failed by another employee over the actions of this guy.  The computer room was a glass fishbowl that was surrounded by halls leading to office space in the building.  The entire building was secured.  This employee apparently sees a female employee walking down the hall at 2 in the morning… an unusual time to see anyone other than the cleaning staff.  He comes out and says “can I help you” and startles her.  She says “no, I work here.”   He says, “ok just checking.  If you want me to escort you to the parking lot for safety, just let me know.  I don’t know if you know, but a rape occurred in the parking lot of the office next door.”

    She complained to HR that my employee had first frightened her and then had threatened to rape her.

    Of course it was worked out… after I raked the HR person over the coals for doing such a piss poor job of getting a full accurate statement from the girl for what was ACTUALLY said, not what she “felt” was meant.

    When I explained what had happened to my employee, I apologized and told him that I was concerned that the girl had responded the way she had because of his race, he said “naw, it is probably more that I am a great big guy with a low voice and some tattoos.  She would have probably acted the same if I was white.”

    What pissed me off even more, that after I left he got fired for putting his arm around a female coworker (he had a tendency to do that with everyone… male or female)… with HR considering the previous complaint as a second strike.  I offered to help him with legal costs to go after the company for that (I no longer worked there), but he ended up dropping it after getting a government job.

    It was a very interesting situation because my employee was harmed because of PC correctness and hypersensitivity-enabled HR rules.

    He never looked at it as a racial issue as far as I know.  But then he seemed much more personally developed than many continually claiming racism for every human encounter.

     

    1. Davis Progressive

      i actually appreciate this story a lot.  because what you are seeing in the example you gave is unconscious bias.  he may not have looked at it as a racism, but her reaction to him was probably subconscious, she wasn’t aware of it, but she probably reacted to a black man in that situation differently than if you had approached her and had the same conversation.

      1. Alan Miller

        her reaction to him was probably subconscious, she wasn’t aware of it, but she probably reacted to a black man in that situation differently than if you had approached her and had the same conversation.

        1. Barack Palin

          We’re all probably racists, we just probably don’t know it.  Every time something happens to a person of color it was probably racism or racial bias. 

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I just think you miss the distinction between racists and unconscious / implicit bias.

  11. failsafe

    I feel that there are plenty of other examples to demonstrate the points all commenters are trying to make as they argue back and forth.   The reason the argument continues forever in this thread is because this case is such a weak case to demonstrate anything.   Therefore it weakens all arguments.

    It is possible that a privileged white person from the suburbs got scared by a black person.

    It is also possible that a woman finally got tired of this man “tailgating” into an almost empty facility at 1am and legitimately felt unsafe, knowing that this man already had no problem repeatedly violating rules that are obvious:   key card to enter.    Both options are plausible.   You can choose either.

     

    1. hpierce

      Failsafe… you’re making way too much sense.

      It was earlier noted that police have to respond to ‘calls for service’, without ‘vetting’ the motivations/biases/fears, etc. of the caller.  Thank God.  The police easily determined, absent race/gender/whatever, that an individual was on University property, where he had no business being.

      What happened after that, is ripe for speculation, spinning, etc.  We have one account of it.  I posit that it is not reasonable to presume that the one account is free of bias, conscious or unconscious, or even truthful.  Perhaps, time will tell… nor, maybe not.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      It is possible that a privileged white person from the suburbs got scared by a black person.

      It is also possible that a woman finally got tired of this man “tailgating” into an almost empty facility at 1am and legitimately felt unsafe, knowing that this man already had no problem repeatedly violating rules that are obvious: key card to enter. Both options are plausible. You can choose either.

      What I’m reading you say is not that you think that this incident doesn’t present a racial component, but rather that you don’t have sufficient information to reach a conclusion one way or another, which is fair enough.

      1. hpierce

        That’s how I read it, David.  If somebody called about a 60 year old white guy (who may or not be a student… have a friend who is finishing up her degree this year, who is 61) “tailgating”, I would hope a person would call, for at least a ‘welfare check’, and I would expect UCD PD to respond.  What happened after the response is an open question.  Only one account.  What if it was the fact he was a “guy”?  If it was a white, 60 year old white male, same circumstances, who encountered UCD PD, and brought you the same story, would you have written about it?  Check your own biases.  Conscious or unconscious.

      2. Topcat

        What I’m reading you say is not that you think that this incident doesn’t present a racial component, but rather that you don’t have sufficient information to reach a conclusion one way or another…

        Yes, that’s the way I see it too.

        In order to avoid any future appearance of unequal treatment, there should be 100% enforcement of access only by authorized individuals.  There should be signs posted that anyone seen tailgating should be reported to the police for ejection. Installing a video monitoring system would also be a good idea.

  12. Anon

    DG: “You guys are very dismissive of the notion that people are color continue to be treated very different from white people in our community. That’s troubling to me.”

    I don’t think anyone is being dismissive of the notion that people of color or people of different religion or people of different ethnicity CAN BE treated differently by OTHERs.  (Blacks can be prejudiced against whites, whites against blacks, Muslims against whites, Christians against Muslims and Jews, Jews against Muslims and Christians, WASP against anyone who isn’t a WASP, etc. ad nauseum (my grandmother had a very colorful vocabulary when it came to different religions or ethnicities)).  This case of the guy who tailgated to get into the library is just not a good representative example of “racism”.  There really isn’t any evidence of racism, just evidence that a guy broke the law.  I will be quite honest here, and posit that your statement sounds racist against white people!  It sounds like you assume every white person is consciously or unconsciously biased against non-whites.  Is that what you really think of all white people?

     

  13. Tia Will

    failsafe and Frankly

    I used to study there a lot, late at night.  It was creepy when people would “tailgate” their way in”

    Like Frankly, I also appreciate your input since you have direct experience with this particular reading room. However, I find it interesting that the feeling that something is “creepy” is a highly subjective standard to use when assessing if there is any real potential for disruption of a function of the university. Might not some people feel that it is “creepy” if anyone tailgates in while others might be concerned only if it is a member of what they consider an “out group” ?

    It would seem to me that the feeling that something is “creepy” might fall into Frankly’s category of being hypersensitive. The following is intended as an example only to get people’s thoughts about another possible scenario and whether of not ( and why or why not) they think it would be reasonable to call the police.

    Let’s suppose that there is a group of four individuals who are members of a study group who decide after a joint study session that they are all going to go to the reading room for individual study. The first student uses their key card to enter, and all the others rather than getting out their cards “tail gate” in. Is this suspicious ?  Would it have seemed “creepy”enough to warrant a police call ?  Would the ages, genders, race or other identifying features of the group have been enough to warrant a police call ?  I am just trying to get at the criteria that people use to decide what subjective criteria would cause them to make that call.

    1. Topcat

      ….“creepy” is a highly subjective standard to use when assessing if there is any real potential for disruption of a function of the university.

      This is why there should be 100% enforcement of the controlled access to this facility.  That way there won’t be any question about “creepiness” or bias against any particular individual.

      Every illegal tailgater should be reported and ejected.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        There can only be 100% enforcement if people are willing to report violators, what late night studier wants to call the cops on someone who might be a fellow student and likely poses no harm?

        1. Topcat

          There can only be 100% enforcement if people are willing to report violators…

          I propose that enforcement be done by spot checks by either library staff or UCD Police.  This would be much like what is done on many transit systems now where inspectors check to see if riders have a valid ticket and issue a citation for violators.  In addition, there should be video surveillance of the doors.  There should also be signs at the entrances advising people that this is a controlled access facility that is available to authorized people only.

          It seems like 100% enforcement is the only way we are going to get away from all the un-provable allegations of unequal treatment and bias.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I’ve requested to see the ethnic/ racial break down of the citations for tailgating. Maybe that will shed some light, maybe it won’t. I think the spot check idea is probably impractical. I’m still trying to figure out if that is a real problem anyway given that there are no known thefts, assaults, harassment in that room.

        2. Topcat

          I think the spot check idea is probably impractical.

          I have to disagree with you here.  The University clearly has police officers working at night and it shouldn’t be too much of a burden for them to come to the reading room and politely do spot checks, perhaps once or twice a week.  As I pointed out, this is a widely used approach on transit systems where inspectors come around and check tickets.  This certainly shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem for an esteemed institution such as UCD.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            What the Chief suggested was the Aggie Hosts might be able to do more patrols, but a spot check would require a more onerous process unless I’m misunderstanding what you are envisioning.

        3. Topcat

          …a spot check would require a more onerous process unless I’m misunderstanding what you are envisioning.

          I am looking for solutions to the problem of perceived inequality in the application of the rules for access to this facility.  It seems to me that the best approach is 100% enforcement so that there is absolutely no question of whether there was any bias. I have proposed more signage explaining access rules as well as video monitoring to catch transgressors.  I don’t believe that a spot check system would be onerous.  As I have pointed out, this type of system is widely used on transit systems.  I don’t see any reason that it could not be implemented at the reading room other than perhaps the UCD police department not wanting to commit the resources to do it.

          I have proposed what I believe is a very workable solution.  If you have a better solution, perhaps you can share it with us?

    2. failsafe

      “Creepy” is a word you might describe someone lurking around a locked door as they wait for someone to come in or go out, and they then grab the door to go in before it locks again.    I saw this happen a lot, I’m sure other students do as well.   I never called, but I did keep an eye on the person for a while to see what they were up to.   That “creeped” me out a bit, so I kept an eye on them.    I’m not surprised someone finally called, perhaps they didn’t have access to a completely objective matrix on which to “evaluate real potential for disruption of a function” and instead just got the “creeps”….

  14. Barack Palin

    It’s interesting to see the usual group bending over backwards, spinning things, making up anecdotal stories to try and make a case of racism in a minor incident where race probably had nothing to do with it.  You have to laugh at some of their reasoning, as David states “The problem is that no one here can discount that as a possibility.”  So instead of them proving it was about racism, everyone else has to prove it wasn’t.  How convenient.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      You’re not being reasonable here. There are several elements to this case. One is the initial call. I talked to the chief to put context on that. The other is the official complaint alleging excessive force. Did race play a role in either of those elements? You can’t discount it, so I think we have to look into further and that’s what the university is doing through their process. However, you want to complain that some have unequivocally pointed to racism, you are at least as culpable having in at least one post unequivocally stated race had nothing to do with it, when you are no more solid ground.

      1. Miwok

        When some of the students walk around town, or campus, especially late at night, and they dress in hoodies, in the summer, in the dark, and have behaviors that indicate they appear to be from the streets, give pause to anyone looking at them, sometimes as a curiosity. Then tailgate into a place, get asked for credentials yet are uncooperative?

        I have seen them in the day, and some locals, usually kids belonging to faculty members, think the campus is their personal playground to skateboard all over, video themselves busting themselves up for the inevitable lawsuit. They are obnoxious, and rude, and threatening when asked to stop. I don’t know what happens when the cops find them, but I have video of them, because I wanted photos and such of my evidence they were destroying property.

        It is the demeanor and dress of these individuals that often gain them attention. Most students don’t look like they are prowlers. Some do because that is where they came from.

  15. Tia Will

    Topcat

    Every illegal tailgater should be reported and ejected”

    I would support this approach which would ensure equal application of the rule.

  16. TrueBlueDevil

    I have a new appreciation for these “micro-aggressions” as I realize I have been a victim of these the past 10-20 years. With the momentum of Political Correctness and anti-white atmosphere (especially on college campuses), I am continually an object of scorn.

    One example. I recall being on a college campus (not Davis) and entering into a brief political conversation with undergraduate students at a library exit point. “People of color” were going on and on about racism, and slavery, how slavery was the central issue. White people owned slaves. I interjected. “I don’t own slaves, and my parents didn’t own slaves.”

    A black female firmly replied, “Your grandparents owned slaves.” I calmly looked at her and said “That’s incorrect. They owned no slaves.”

    She then replied, “Well, some people in your family owned slaves.” To which I quickly replied, “My family is from the North where slavery didn’t exist. Besides, we were DIRT POOR … it was the Depression… the food they ate was grown in the garden.”

    She had a puzzled look on her face as if I were speaking Mandarin. My recollections of Depression poverty were equally alien to all of the students present, and they quizzed me more about this while my confused accuser fumed.

    I get these micro aggressions all the time. I am rich because I am white (I’m not). I am hassled by homeless who believe I am rich.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        I was tired of the constant micro aggressions, so I gave her a stark reality… but I was amazed at her ignorance. Were we that ignorant at 21, 22?

  17. Davis Progressive

    topcat:

    the problem i think with your proposal is you are attempting to deal with the problem on the symptom rather than the cause.  by making sure that you deal with tailgating equally, you are not dealing with the real problem which is the implicit bias, at least potentially, that would compel a student to fear for their safety when they see a black man tailgate, but not another individual.

    to me this is really an extension of blacklivesmatter/ alllivesmatter debate. by stating that all lives matter, you are ignoring the inequity in the system. by solving this issue through making sure that all tailgaters have the rules enforced, you are ignoring the problem that creates the inequity in the first place.

    1. Topcat

      If the university enforced the access rules for everyone there would be no issue of any bias.  Everyone in the reading room would be authorized to be there and there would be no reason for anyone to call the police to report a trespasser.

      If you don’t like my proposal, what is your proposal for preventing a future incident where a trespasser feels like he/she is being singled out?

  18. Topcat

    Perhaps the lesson to be learned and applied from this incident is that illegal access and tailgating must not be permitted.  University staff need to take measures to assure 100% compliance with the access rules.  It would seem that video monitoring of the access doors would be an important measure to prevent future episodes like this one.

    It’s interesting that nobody has come up with any other ideas to prevent future incidents.  I guess my proposal is so good that nobody can come up with anything better 🙂

    1. Topcat

      I agree with DP that you are attempting to solve the wrong problem.

      I guess that we see “the problem” differently.  I am looking at what the University can do to prevent any unequal application of the rules so that there is no way that there is any chance of bias coming into play.

      If you don’t like my proposal, what is your proposal for preventing a future incident where a trespasser feels like he/she is being singled out?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        And I’m looking at what is the underlying problem – it’s not that the university isn’t enforcing the law equally, it is that students are (potentially) reacting differently to the same actions by different groups of individuals differently. As such finding a way to enforce that rule across the board, while laudable, doesn’t solve the problem that I see underlying it.

      2. Topcat

        …it is that students are (potentially) reacting differently to the same actions by different groups of individuals differently.

        Yes, I understand what you are saying.  The University can’t change the way individual students react, so I think we need to completely remove them from the equation.  The way to do this is what I have proposed; 100% enforcement of the “No tailgating” and no trespassing rules.

        If you don’t want 100% enforcement, what do you want to University to do?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Wait a second. The university’s job is to educate its students, how can you say they can’t change the way individual students react. We can’t remove that from the equation, that is the equation.

  19. Tia Will

    David and Topcat

    Whoa….wait a minute you two. Each of you is claiming that you have identified “the problem” in what is clearly a multifactorial situation.

    1. We have limited knowledge of the facts of the case.

    2. We have Mr. Seelu’s individual perception of what happened and his primary concern which as stated here is clearly different from David’s emphasis on subconscious bias.

    3. We have Topcat’s emphasis on equal treatment by the university.

    4. We have the university’s responsibility to educate students and presumably the students responsibility to learn.

    So what would I like to see:

    1. Student safety – I think that the idea of videotaped surveillance of the entrance with monitoring is a good idea. Tickets or some kind of public service could be assessed on all who enter without an individual pass key. Perhaps this could be a student job, just like bussing dishes in the cafeteria. This would be an opportunity for the students to assess their own assumptions about others.

    2. Equal treatment would be a clear cut message to students that the regulations will be enforced on all, not just those of whom they are suspicious. Perhaps this message by the university would encourage students to re evaluate their own biases and feelings of entitlement. The “I managed to sneak in …” smug point of view that is not uncommon in our youth.

    3. A less physically aggressive stance on the part of the police. Yes, yes….I know that we do not know the facts of this particular circumstance….only Mr. Sellu’s interpretation. But bear in mind that I always will favor a less aggressive approach being a pacifist. I find it hard to believe that two police officers, in a reading room situation, with an unarmed trespasser would feel so intimidated as to need to use physical force for their own protection. As has occurred in so many taped interactions, the police officers becomes irritated because of a perceived challenge to their authority, someone “talking back” or not moving fast enough, or not understanding an instruction and therefore failing to comply, that one has to at least consider that this might have played a role in this case.

    A less physically aggressive response would be a clear cut example to students that authorities have within their armamentarium enough self control to deescalate a situation to the point where no physical contact at all, let alone aggressive use of force is needed. Wouldn’t that be setting a great example for impressionable students. ? Use your brain, your compassion and your words rather than your muscle !

    So here are my concrete suggestions to hopefully address the concerns of all:

    1. Tape the entrance. Use students to monitor the tapes. Institute some kind of public service payback for offenders…..no exception. Perhaps some form of “restorative justice approach” where the person triggering the system, whether by personal private call to the police or the assigned tape reviewer and the alleged miscreant sit together, watch the tape and analyze together what actually happened and what remedy if any is needed. Now that might present some real world educational experiences both on appropriate adherence to rules, but also on how our personal biases may alter our perception of events. Maybe class credit could be given for participating in such a system.

    2. Consider the police as members of the “educational community” rather than just protectors and enforcers. Consider it a part of their mission for every one of their actions to be an example of conflict resolution using the lowest level of force possible in all instances. If we want to reduce violence in our society, what better way to model violence reduction than through our police.

     

    1. hpierce

      So, are you saying tapes are more appropriate than real-time response?  Yes, this is a loaded question… depending on your response, I can jump all over it, based on experience with how ‘security’ lapses can easily lead to rape…

    2. Edgar Wai

      In addition to video-taping, the university could add another door they need to badge in, with a sign saying that there should be only one person in the area between the two doors (and the second door does not open unless the first door is closed). Then, the entity that checks the video tape/video feed, is checking whether at any point there are two people in between.

      When a student entered the first door and saw that another person tailgated them, the student with the right badge will know that he could get caught if by the camera if he badged in for the second door. At that point, the student with the valid ID does not want to be fined, therefore they would exit from the first door and that the tailgater badge in for the second door. At that point, if the tailgater has no ID, there is nothing they could do but to exit from the first door.

      The primary person who is “monitoring” the situation, is the person with the valid ID, since the ID is valid, its owner would be accountable for negligence or bypassing the security. Therefore, in a sense, there is always a person “on-staff” to monitor the situation.

      For convenience, the exit could be a one-way revolving gate like those at amusement parks.

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