Questions About the Independence of the Investigation and the Future of Katehi in the Face of Official Inquiry


While the Vanguard welcomed the news that Cruz Reynoso, a former California Supreme Court Justice, would head up the UC Davis Task Force that will review the independent investigation led by William Bratton, a retired Police Police Chief with the Los Angeles Police Department, the key to any inquiry will be the ability of that team to have access to crucial information.

According to UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell, Mr. Bratton and his investigating team will not have subpoena power.

However, Mr. Fell told the Vanguard, “Both campus and UC will cooperate fully with them and make available to them any documents they need, subject only to legal restrictions such as those governing student records, personnel files etc.”

The lack of access to personnel files is not a small factor, however, as the investigators may need to examine some of the police personnel files to understand their history.

The Vanguard remains concerned, despite claims that “they are going to get whatever they want,” that when push comes to shove a promise can be revoked, or information hidden under the guise of police personnel files or other confidential matters.

Others have expressed concern over the independence of the investigators, as well as the ability and willingness of the former LA Police Chief to conduct a fair investigation.

A letter from Robert Meister, a Political Science professor at UC Santa Cruz, who heads the Council of UC Faculty Associations, which is an umbrella organization for the Faculty Associations at each UC campus, spells out concern over the independence of Kroll, the company that Mr. Bratton currently works for.

He writes, “We take no position here on Mr. Bratton’s personal qualifications; our objection is to the conflicts of interest of Kroll Security itself, which is already a major contractor with UC on security matters.”

“According to its website, Kroll’s services are not confined to securing databases and facilities from attacks by criminals and terrorists. It also protects many global financial institutions and other multinationals against threats to ‘operations’ that may come from public criticism and direct political action,” Professor Meister continues.

He writes: “By deepening UC’s links to Kroll, you would be illustrating the kinds of connection between public higher education and Wall Street that the Occupy UC movement is protesting. Kroll’s parent company, Altegrity, provides data-mining, intelligence and on-the-ground security to financial institutions and governments seeking to head off and defeat both private sabotage and public protest. In addition, Altegrity’s parent company, Providence Private Equity, is a major global investor in for-profit higher education companies that benefit from the decline of publicly funded higher education.”

According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Lynn Tierney, vice-president of communications at UC, said the work Kroll has done in the past consisted of background checks, security around visits from foreign dignitaries and security around faculty singled out for the work they do.”

A Kroll spokesperson noted that there is no conflict of interest and dismissed Professor Meister’s criticism by stating, “[I]t is clear that some of the commentators do not have a complete understanding of the nature and content of the professional advice and counsel that Bill Bratton provides to nations and organizations.”

I think that is exactly the problem – we do not know what kinds of ties Mr. Bratton has and to whom.

“The University is literally hiring the same security company that is protecting the financial service industry,” Professor Meister told the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post noted, “Other professors were pessimistic about any investigation, after seeing reviews of controversial campus police action before. Catherine Cole, a professor in the theater department of the UC Berkeley campus, said ‘There’s a lot of suspicion about these reports and investigations that don’t lead to anything [despite taking a lot of time].’ “

And that is where we are concerned.  President Yudof has made waves by putting two big names in charge of the investigation – a former Police Chief and a Former Supreme Court Justice, who at least also has local ties to the UC Davis campus.

Our own review of the use of force protocols, as well as case law, suggest that the use of pepper spray in this incident to disperse seated protesters with arms interlocked could be deemed excessive force and violation of the Fourth Amendment.

However, the review needs to focus on not only the issue of the use of force, but also who ordered that use of force.

Embattled Chancellor Katehi has twice put the onus on the UC Davis police.  For the first riot gear incident, Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro told Reverend Stoneking “The police were not supposed to be in riot gear and the administration was also not happy about their response,” and then she deflected blame from the chancellor noting, “The Chancellor is unavailable due to her triple-booked schedule to move forward her agenda of globalization and internationalization of the university.”

Following the pepper spray incident, Chancellor Katehi first defended the police action, then later she told the Bee that the police had defied her orders in using force against the students.

“We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them, not to do it, if the students were aggressive, not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley,” she told the Sacramento Bee.

Clearly, for Ms. Katehi’s future, the question in this investigation is (A) whether the use of force was appropriate and (B) whether Ms. Katehi ordered the use of force.

That will be the focus that most take.  Already, esteemed faculty are rallying behind Ms. Katehi.

Entomology Professor Walter Leal’s letter, signed by over 206 other professors, backed Chancellor Katehi in the face of strong public and student sentiment that she ought to resign, sentiment bolstered by those such as English Professor Nathan Brown, the English and Physics Departments and the board of the Davis Faculty Association.

On Tuesday Professor Leal wrote: “We strongly believe that Linda Katehi is well-qualified to lead our university through this difficult healing process and oppose the premature calls for her resignation; this is not in the best interest of our university.”

This leads to our belief that Ms. Katehi will survive, barring the clear finding that she ordered the use of force.

To me, while that is an important issue, the bigger issue has been her leadership here.  She consistently backtracked and changed her story as the fire grew hotter.  It became clear, at least to some, that this was an exercise in cover-up and obfuscation.

The fact that she had the possibility of heading off this crisis but was too busy being triple-booked and promoting the university is telling.  If she is truly angling for the Presidency, that hope has been dealt a huge blow.

If she returns after the investigation, she needs to focus on building up the home front and restoring student confidence.  The larger problems are not her fault.  But how she handled them most certainly is.

The students want nothing less than her resignation, but that seems increasingly unlikely, barring a major finding or smoking gun in the coming weeks.  She is on notice, and the next time the police overreact could be the last time.

—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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  1. J.R.


    You are spreading incorrect information. The Physics Department has made clear that calls for resignation were not made by the Department, but rather by a majority group of the faculty in the Department speaking as individuals. See the physics website for details, as well as the Enterprise. This has been out for several days now yet you continue to mischaracterize this important distinction.

    You also claim to have some clairvoyant insight to what “students” think. There is no evidence that most students want resignation.

    I’m afraid that leftist dreams of revolution will once more go unfulfilled.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    “You are spreading incorrect information. The Physics Department has made clear that calls for resignation were not made by the Department, but rather by a majority group of the faculty in the Department speaking as individuals. “

    I’m not spreading incorrect information so much as incomplete information.

  3. newshoundpm

    DG: “The Vanguard remains concerned, despite claims that “they are going to get whatever they want,” that when push comes to shove a promise can be revoked, or information hidden under the guise of police personnel files or other confidential matters.”

    UC and the Chancellor can only provide what they are able to by law. To insinuate that that they will be less than forthcoming is unfair and reflects your bias on this matter, which is unfortunate. I expect UC and the staff to act responsibly. Making personnel records public is not necessarily the most responsible thing to do, as it may trade off public privacy rights for the desire of the public to have full access to whatever they deem of interest – despite any potential consequences.

    Likewise, comments about Katehi changing her story are unfair absent additional informatoin that we will likely only have after this investigation or investigations are completed. Katehi likely spoke to John Meyers and/or to the UC Police Chief to determine what happened on the 18th. Katehi’s mistake, if one wants to call it that, was trying to respond and make a statement to the public, based upon the informatoin that she was able to obtain quickly. It turns out that the information she received, about the police being surrounded, appears to have been untrue. However, how does one fault Katehi for that? Maybe she could have been more equivocal, saying that based upon the information that she had, which has not been independently verified by multiple sources, this is what I believe or understand to have happened. We can’t have it both ways with the demand for immediate responses and actions of Katehi, and then criticize her response and then saying that she is changing her story or response later. All of the reponses that Katehi has made that I have seen seem perfectly reasonable in the context of what information she appeared to have when she made them. Why would she expect that the UC Police Chief would give her incorrect information? We don’t even know if the Police Chief knew that that information was incorrect at that time. Someone screwed-up, but we don’t know who that was yet.

  4. medwoman


    ” Someone screwed up, but we don’t know who that was yet.”

    Although as a pacist, I could never condone the slow, deliberate, intentional pepper spraying of clearly non violent protesters, I would take your comment one step further. We do not even know for sure that this was an individual or individuals who “screwed up” . Again, with my medical background showing, I can see how this could have been a failure of communications or systems problem.

    For example, let’s suppose that what Katehi intended was to clear the tents, but not the protesters. Let’s suppose that what the police chief interpreted from Katehii’s communication was that her mandate was to clear the quad completely. I think many of us may have had similar miscommunications at work and have been lucky not to have the whole resultant mess caught on myriad cell phones. Or let’s suppose that Lt. Pike really did fear for the safety of his officers. Extremely difficult to believe given his expression and preceding and following taped demeanor, but for the moment, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. What would be indicated is intensive retraining, evaluation of emotional fitness and stability for a command position, and a second chance presuming that all of his previous work had been satisfactory. Would any of us like to lose our job on the basis of a single error without a fair hearing. I wouldn’t have had my 25 year career, if I had been fired because of a single serious error I made, and I am sure many of us find ourselves in the same position.

  5. rusty49

    The other day I heard a caller into the Armstrong and Getty show say that he was at the incident and that in his opinion half of the crowd weren’t students but outside agitators. He also said that the crowd tried to block the officers off from access to their police vehicles.

  6. Alphonso

    As I have read the pepper spray stories I have concluded significant blame should be directed at Yolo County. Many counties have pohibited the use of pepper spray on peaceful demonstrators – if there had been a policy like that in Yolo this incident likely would not have happened.

  7. medwoman

    Rusty 49

    And this callers identity was…….? How do we know he wasn’t Lt. Pike’s brother for example ?
    Proof of reliability of witness ?. Evidence that half of the crowd weren’t students ?
    Only one of those arrested was not a student and that was a new grad. Those outside agitators must have been very inconspicuous not to have been amongst those arrested .

  8. rusty49

    Medwoman, just relaying what I heard on the A&G radio show (Armstrong is or was a resident of Davis).

    “Those outside agitators must have been very inconspicuous not to have been amongst those arrested.”

    There were many more people in the crowd than were actually arrested and they weren’t inconspicuous at all if you watch the videos. Just because outsiders weren’t part of the arrest doesn’t mean that they weren’t there.

  9. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]So a white lie isn’t a lie?[/quote]

    Incomplete information does not tell the WHOLE story… In fact the oath a witness has to take requires the witness to “tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth…”

  10. AdRemmer

    David Greenwald previously wrote: [quote]I’m not spreading incorrect information so much as incomplete information. [/quote]

    David isn’t it true that “The Journalist’s Creed” includes as part of its core principles:

    …clarity, accuracy, fairness, truth, independence and, public service…?

  11. AdRemmer

    ERM noted: [quote]Incomplete information does not tell the WHOLE story… [/quote]

    Yes, especially when the ‘incomplete information’ is surreptitiously masked as plenary and the writer fails to denote it as such…

    But in the ‘blogoshere,’ and the trend to highlight OWS morals over others, who really cares about the appearance of impropriety?

  12. medwoman


    I think it is fine to ” just relay what I heard”.
    I think it is also fine to not give much credence to completely unsubstantiated comments.
    I also think one is more likely to give more credence to unsubstantiated comments that happen to agree with one’s own point of view.
    Would you disagree ?

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