To the surprise of probably no one, Matthew Carmichael was sworn in Thursday to succeed Annette Spicuzza who had retired just one day earlier. Due to the quick turnaround between the resignation of Ms. Spicuzza and the announcement for the new hire, it was clear that the choice would be Mr. Carmichael, a 27-year veteran of law enforcement, with the last 10 years as a lieutenant at UC Davis. He has served as acting chief since Nov. 21.
Ms. Spicuzza had been on administrative leave while the campus conducted an internal affairs investigation into the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying of demonstrators on the Quad.
The ceremony took place at midafternoon in the Activities and Recreation Center Ballroom, before an audience that included Carmichael’s family, members of the Police Department and the broader campus community.
Chancellor Linda Katehi announced Carmichael’s appointment in a message to the campus community, saying his service as acting chief for the last five months “has been extraordinary, during some very demanding circumstances.”
In her message to the campus, Chancellor Katehi praised Chief Carmichael for reaching out to students, faculty and staff, and developing many strong, positive relationships.
“He is highly respected as a leader, adviser and innovator, not only within our department and across our campus, but also throughout the law enforcement community,” Chancellor Katehi wrote.
Chief Carmichael said his top priority in the next few months will be to rebuild the relationship between the police and the campus community.
“We’re going to be out meeting people and hearing about your needs and concerns,” he said. “We’re here to serve the campus community and keep it a safe place to work and live.”
According to the campus release, this is actually only an interim appointment. The appointment will last for one year. “During the latter part of his term, the campus will launch a national search for a new police chief,” the campus said.
On Thursday, Chancellor Katehi also announced a shift in oversight of the Police Department – effective May 1 and on an interim basis – from the vice chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management, a post held by John Meyer, to the provost and executive vice chancellor, Ralph J. Hexter, who serves as the campus’s chief academic and operating officer.
“This transfer will ensure that, going forward, the department will be closely aligned with our core academic mission and values,” Katehi said.
The move makes sense, given the criticism leveled against Vice Chancellor John Meyer in the ReynosoTask Force and Kroll reports.
John Meyer played a critical role leading up to the fateful decisions on the fateful day in November. Not only was he the supervisor to the police chief, but he was part of the ill-defined and poorly-named “leadership team,” which made the decision to remove the tents.
It was his assessment and miscalculations, about the role of non-affiliates in the Occupy movement on the Quad.
He said, “We do worry that if camping persists it could attract individuals that have no affiliation with the campus which raises other security issues. We are assessing our legal options and are not inclined to allow tents or structures.”
Indeed, the report goes to great lengths to demonstrate that the fears of the administration, including John Meyer, were not only ill-founded, they were not properly investigated.
Kroll writes: “Leading up to the eviction, Chancellor Katehi and Vice Chancellor Meyer were not swayed by the reports from Student Affairs staff that the Occupy activists were overwhelmingly comprised of students.”
Indeed, they added, “Even after nine of the ten individuals arrested on November 18 were found to be students (or recent alumni), the perception that there was a significant presence of non-affiliates persisted.”
This is a critical discussion, because it leads directly to the decision to remove the tents, based, of course, on a notion of safety to the students – an outcome that was again ironically undermined by the ineffective execution of the flawed operation.
The decision not to allow the tents seems to have been arrived at by John Meyer, with consultation with others including Vice Chancellor Fred Wood.
Kroll reports, “Chief Spicuzza also raised the question of whether a ‘definitive answer’ was reached as to whether tents would be allowed on the Quad. Vice Chancellors Wood and Meyer subsequently emailed each other confirming their opinion that tents would not be allowed.”
While there is shared blame here, Vice Chancellor Meyer, due to his position, gets singled out.
They write that he “was an early advocate for the position that tents on the Quad would have to be taken down. He also understood that the deployment of police on Nov. 18 would require the use of physical force and supported this decision.”
They add, “Accordingly, he bears some significant responsibility for the decision to use the police and to risk a confrontation with protesters on Nov. 18. Vice Chancellor Meyer also exercised administrative responsibility over UCDPD.”
Here they hammer him: “In that capacity, he, more than other members of the Leadership Team, should have taken steps to determine if police leadership had concerns about the contemplated operation and to ensure that those concerns were understood and evaluated by the Leadership Team.”
The reorganization, therefore, makes a good deal of sense.
On the other hand, it seems strange that a world class university has a police chief with only an associate’s degree, rather than a 4-year college degree.
According to the release, Matthew Carmichael, who holds an associate’s degree in administration of justice from Napa Valley College, joined the UC Davis Police Department as a lieutenant in 2002. He has been responsible for patrol operations on the Davis campus, as well as serving as a public information officer.
He has managed the K-9 Program, Property and Evidence, Bike Unit, Crime Prevention, Crime Analysis, Detective Unit, Field Training Officer Program and Hostage Negotiations Team.
Before coming to UC Davis, he worked in the Pinole Police Department (Contra Costa County), where he started his law enforcement career in 1985. He was recognized as Officer of the Year in Pinole, and Pinole Citizen of the Year.
At UC Davis, he has been the recipient of the Chief’s Appreciation Award, the Centennial to Society Award and the Calvin E. Handy Leadership Award, named after a former police chief.
Carmichael received an Award of Distinction from the California Peace Officers Association, and twice received an Award of Merit for Outstanding and Superior Conduct from the California College and University Police Chiefs Association. He also is the recipient of U.S. Attorney and Marshals Service awards.
He serves as the coordinator for the UC Davis Police Department’s participation in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, in support of the Special Olympics, and assists in fundraising for the Concerns of Police Survivors program.
The father of four also is active in the community, as an Exchange Club member, music boosters president and Cub Scout leader, and is active on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House.
—David M. Greenwald reporting