My View: Police Discussion Needed More Balance, Discussion on Downside Risks


Recently in Sacramento forty police officers using three tactical vehicles, including some with armor, conducted a raid on a Sacramento home. While the case is now pending, the police ended up turning the house upside down and charged the individual with a misdemeanor Penal Code section 148(a).

A misdemeanor 148(a)(1) is “resisting arrest” by “delay” or “obstruction.” Charged as a misdemeanor, generally speaking, this is not a resisting arrest with force. Without other charges, this type of standalone charge naturally leads to questions – how does one resist an arrest when there was nothing sufficient for an arrest?

I raise this case because, throughout the MRAP issue, there has been a tendency to downplay the risk of the police possessing a military armored vehicle and the risk of militarization of police tactics.

It is of course easy and tempting to note, as Assistant Chief Darren Pytel would, that Davis police are a world apart from their Sacramento counterparts. However, it was May of 2012 when two friends arguing outside their Glacier Point Apartments residence triggered a Davis police officer, Lee Benson, to Taser a resident.

It was just last year, back in back in February of 2013, that Chief Landy Black wrote, “Based on the evidence, it became clear the conduct of the first arriving officer with whom you interacted did not meet the highest standards of conduct and service we expect from our members.”

The Vanguard would learn that the officer was terminated from the department.

The bottom line here is that, while the Davis police have greatly improved their service under Chief Landy Black, mistakes happen, even in Davis – situations get out of hand, the police act on bad information and sometimes that leads to unpleasant consequences.

But we didn’t get that kind of discussion Thursday night, and that was by design. The police felt that they had not been given a full opportunity prior to the MRAP story to lay out the need for such a vehicle.

I get their concern – I even agree with their concern. At the same time, I worry about one-sided discussions in the public arena. There were 56 people in attendance at one count on Thursday. Most of those people were not in attendance back in August, at the city council meeting.

And this was a very different group. It was largely a group who were over 60. There was a mix of people who were relative newcomers to Davis and some who had been in town 40 to 50 years. The group that came to council was younger and more ethnically diverse.

When they went around the room in introduction, there was a mix between people who were concerned about militarization and people there concerned about crime and protecting the police. I would say the group leaned toward the latter, albeit slightly, but by the end of the discussion most people were saying that they now agreed with keeping the MRAP, based on the confiscated guns.

The problem here is that we had a movement of public opinion because, in part, there was no counterbalance to the police position. There was no police auditor to give another side of the story. We didn’t get the ACLU’s police practices expert to counter the police claims. We didn’t have Radley Balko come to talk about the dangers of police militarization.

As such, I think the police – understandably – overstate the risks that would require an armored vehicle. We are talking about 11 times in the last five years that the city of Davis used an armored vehicle – why does that require the city itself to have one?

They underplayed the cost as to how much it will take to maintain the vehicle – as Robb Davis pointed out a few weeks ago, these are specialty vehicles with very unique parts.

They underplayed how poorly adapted it was.

“Fundamentally I don’t think the vehicle, the MRAP, is adapted to our situation,” Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said in October. “It does one thing well, it protects people inside.” Citing military literature, he argued, “There’s a lot of disagreement about the value of this vehicle.

“One of the reasons we’re seeing them show up in our communities is because they haven’t worked very well except for one thing – as you’re going down a road, a pretty straight road, a flat road, if a bomb goes off, it will protect everybody inside. That we know. Everyone agrees with that,” the mayor pro tem explained. “Where the disagreement comes in is what happens if you have to wheel it into a tight spot.” He said up hills, uneven terrain, even up driveways are problematic for the vehicle.

“What happens in an urban environment?” he continued. “The consensus there is that it’s not very well adapted.” He called it “a product of really a broken military system. There were five companies that made these.” He said when they “got into theater they couldn’t even find the parts to repair these because they’re specialized parts.”

Unfortunately, people were changing their opinions based on one-sided information on Thursday night.

A few weeks ago, I met with Assistant Chief Darren Pytel. He explained to me the shift in police tactics and the use of the robot.

On Thursday he told the group, said, “So everyone thinks we use the armored vehicle to go in and bust through people’s houses. Actually not true.”

“We’ve gone from using dynamic entries, which is showing up real quick, jumping out of the car, busting through a door,” he said. Their new tactic is surround and call out – where the team is ready to go, surrounds the location, has a negotiator there and tells the party to come out.

He explained that they actually have a robot now. “We’re able to send in a robot to help us reach a door. The robot has a video camera on it and communication equipment so it can sit there and [the subject can] negotiate with the robot and never expose a person [to danger].”

They also can clear a room using the robot, but the person operating the robot must be very close and likely sitting in armored protection while this goes on.

But that doesn’t mean there cannot be abuses. From what was described to me in Sacramento, for instance, they actually did a call out, then they raided the place and basically found nothing. They may well have arrested the individual for refusing to come out immediately when they arrived on a search, rather than arresting on an arrest warrant. Obviously, the courts will sort that situation out.

Mistakes can happen anywhere, and the police are downplaying the potential that the MRAP could be used inappropriately, as it has been in many other locations. For example, in Racine, Wisconsin, the police deployed their armored vehicle over a dog poop dispute and the SWAT team ended up executing the dog.

An article in Salon noted that Stettin, “a town of less than 3,000 in Marathon County, Wisconsin, sent armored vehicles and 24 armed officers to collect an $86,000 debt from 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner earlier this month, action that raises anew the issue of police militarization.”

But this can’t happen in Davis, right?

Then you have the assistant chief arguing that the dynamics of policing has changed with AB 109 and will do so even more with Prop. 47. Since 2010, felony arrests are up 105 percent. Drug related arrests are up 163 percent since 2010. Robberies are up 27 percent since 2010.

“So we’re dealing with more and more crime,” he said. “Keep reading the news and I think you will be seeing and reading a lot more about that in the coming years.”

He argued that, while there are positive areas of AB 109 and Prop. 47, “realize it’s going to take years to actually change the system to reduce recidivism… But we’re going to see a couple of rough years here, probably pretty soon.”

But a broader look at the crime statistics at least calls into question whether AB 109 is the root cause if it.

It is important to note that crime in California overall has dropped, but it is not consistent. As the PublicCEO website reported this week, “Most of California’s counties saw lower crime rates in 2013, according to the latest data. Violent crime dropped in 41 out of the 58 counties, and property crime dropped in 37 counties.”

So is AB 109 causing crime to go up in Davis, but down elsewhere, or is there a more localized factor at work? We do not have the kind of longitudinal data we need to be drawing these kinds of conclusions, and yet there we have the assistant chief doing exactly that in a forum where he was not countered.

Darren Pytel is a very good assistant chief and likely will be the next chief when Landy Black decides to retire or move. This isn’t about attacking him. The people at this forum simply needed to have an alternative perspective that could speak from an equal position of authority.

So, as usual, we will be looking to do that sometime early in 2015.

—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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67 thoughts on “My View: Police Discussion Needed More Balance, Discussion on Downside Risks”

  1. Tia Will


    I would like to add a couple of points that were made by Assistant Chief Pytel that I think were over looked in the emotionalism and fear generated by the dramatic display of weapons.

    1. Mr. Pytel noted that he was aware when the availability of the MRAP was first mentioned to him that it was not well adapted to our community because of limited functionality as well as the probable negative perception by many in the community. He also clearly stated his preference for a smaller, more agile vehicle.

    2. He noted that he only became convinced that it was a good solution due to the departments lack of funding for a better adapted vehicle.

    3. He pointed out the yearly demand for decrease in the department’s proposed budget despite the local increase in crime and more dangerous nature of those crimes.

    Given my view on the importance of primary prevention and safety, my take from the forum is the following:

    1. The police should be provided with funding adequate to their needs in a changing law enforcement environment.

    2. In the interests of safety, the police should have access to the best adapted equipment for our local needs that we can provide. If we need to provide more funding, we should do so.

    3. There should be much more proactive communication between the public and city departments so that major acquisitions are not made without community input.  This is not just my opinion, but that of all the police officers who addressed the issue and also the opinion of many of the participants of all political stripes. This is more a function of the willingness of the public to engage than it is a fault on the part of the police who are very welcoming of public input and as expressed by one officer ” I think that people should be asking many more questions of us.”



    1. David Greenwald Post author

      To that point, Darren made the point that he’s been in management for 14 years and in 13 they’ve had cuts, that takes us to about 2001 which means that includes the time period when the city increased spending by $3 million on personnel for fire alone. We also had in 2009 a proposal that would implement a battalion chief model in fire costing about $400,000, which eventually was scrapped for the current division chief model.

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > To that point, Darren made the point that he’s been in management for

        >14 years and in 13 they’ve had cuts, that takes us to about 2001

        It sounds like he is talking about the “fake” cuts people in government talk about all the time where an “increase” that is smaller than they wanted it to be is called a “cut”.

        If they really had 13 years of “cuts” the police budget should be lower today than it was in the 90’s.

          1. Don Shor

            Police Department budget
            2011-12 15,273,212
            2012-13 15,847,268
            2013-14 16,694,003
            2014-15 17,308,881

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            yeah what he said was asked to make a cuts list, not actually make cuts. a little different.

          3. Don Shor

            I wonder if equipment purchases and updates have been sacrificed due to increases in payroll. I’d have to dig deeper into the numbers to see the trends. But there were increases in pay to safety personnel in many areas after 9/11. It is possible (someone could confirm) that police pay has increased faster than the budget has increased, and that equipment replacement and acquisition may have suffered as a consequence.

        1. South of Davis

          Neutral wrote:

          > False.  BLS calculates 34.4% inflation between ’01 and now,

          > and their budget – any way you want to calculate it – was cut. 

          I have no problem if the department says “inflation has been outpacing our increases in funding” but it is a lie to say you had “cuts” to your budget.

          If you were making $100K in 2001 and today are making $134K would be telling people you have your pay “cut” every year over the past decade?

          Don’s numbers show a 13% increase in funding in just the last four years (if we had “cuts in 13 of the last 14 years how can we have “increases” in four our of the past four years?)..

    2. Frankly

      There should be much more proactive communication between the public and city departments so that major acquisitions are not made without community input.

      This is quite frankly ridiculous.  I don’t have a problem with a commission charged with vetting major purchases from a financial perspective, but that already exists.  And maybe we can form a public safety advisory commission made up of people experienced in law enforcement to review some of this and report to the council and city management.  But I am absolutely not in favor of the general population developing an expectation that they can and should dictate what tools the police can use or not.  It is absurd to even consider this just as it would be absurd for the public to dictate what tools the doctor gets to use.

      Note that the MRAP was not a “significant acquisition” from a financial perspective.

      In terms of your point about more funding… the lack of funding is directly attributable to the compensation we are paying city employees… including the police.

      My father in law retired Captain of the Davis PD 20 years ago after 30 years on the job at age 55.  He told me that when he signed the employment agreement he was ecstatic that he would get 50% at age 55 guaranteed.  Then later we was again made happy that he would get 2% at 50.  And then later he got another gift of 2.5% at 50.  One of his Lieutenants under him retired 5 years later at age 55 with a 3% at 50 pension.  As I understand the police are back to a 2.7% at 55 (somebody please correct me if I am wrong).

      The hedonic treadmill effect prevents a person from being reasonable accepting less once they are given more.  That is understandable.  But it should not be the choice of the recipient what they are paid.  It should be the choice of the employer.  And employees can decide if they want to accept it, or else they can go find another job that pays them what they think they are worth.

      What I will keep saying over and over again is that we need to eliminate public sector unionization and also eliminate defined benefit pensions.  There are a number of reasons that this needs to be done.  A primary one is that unionization that seeks job security combined with the job-locking (using Nancy Pelosi’s term) people into a mismatched career, or a job that they have grown to dislike, only because they think they cannot afford to let go of the pension benefits.  Basically, unionization and defined benefit pensions ensures a general lower quality work product because of the higher percentage of employees that are not a good fit for the job, or that have lost their motivation to perform at a high level.  These people then tend to corrupt the general work culture and effect the new recruits that come in idealistic to implement the new modern best-practices they learned at the academy or in college.

      But the primary reason is that the level of total compensation and the cost of the long-term liability for retirement benefits are unfairly penalizing non-government employee residents and taxpayers with a steady decline in service and greater tax burdens that impact their quality of life and retirement plans.

      Frankly, because I am, this practice of over-compensating our city employees is becoming a safety hazard.  We are unnecessarily giving away our precious and constrained public dollars only to fund what is basically a lottery win end of year fully-paid lifetime vacation for our lucky city employees.

      Cities only need professional HR to advocate for employees.  There are plenty of laws on the books that provide all the protection employees need.  Unions do not do a good job advocating for employees other than collective bargaining.  They are primarily political entities focused on the politics and not the employees.  95% of all US workers are non-unionized.  So if anyone wants to argue that unions are required, they are going to have to explain how and why non-unionization works for the other 95%.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “Unions do not do a good job advocating for employees other than collective bargaining.”

        you’re unfair with things the representational work unions do in workplace disputes?

        1. Frankly

          Most people I know that belong to a union or have belonged to a union tell me that the unions are basically ineffective and unresponsive to many conflicts and issues that develop.  Their general feeling is that their union is more a lobbying entity.  That sounds about right.

      2. Tia Will


        This is quite frankly ridiculous.”

        Maybe, but the police speaking at the forum did not seem to share your opinion. They seemed to respect and want more input from the community. So if those of us who are not professionals should defer to the opinion of the police, I would suggest that you should consider starting with yourself.

        1. Frankly

          They just a small group of loud and obnoxious people push the CC to return a tool they needed.  Of course they are going to ask for community input.  But I know for a fact that they know they are just playing a PR game to try and satiate the hypersensitive.  Just like any professional, there is little reason to respect the opinions of non-professionals in maters that they don’t understand.

          How much of their time is spent on this stuff?

          Lets do the same for the medical profession.  Ever time a clinic of medical center or hospital wants to purchase a new piece of expensive equipment, lets have a bunch of public forums so people without any experience as professional health care providers can weigh in and kill the deal.

      3. Miwok

        Cities only need professional HR to advocate for employees.  There are plenty of laws on the books that provide all the protection employees need.

        Disagree wholeheartedly, and I have the proof that saved my job a couple times. Illegal actions by Management cannot be resolved with the HR to back them. While everyone agreed “I have a case” I needed willing law firms and money to have it happen.

        1. Frankly

          Sorry.  You are completely wrong and out of touch with the state of the labor nanny state world.  There are so many employee protections… it is only a white male under 40 that would have a hard time prevailing in a claim for harm.

          Maybe smaller companies might survive with a tyrant owner, but he/she will have high turnover and risk of hostile work environment claims that have to be defended and rack up attorney cost.  And smaller companies will not be unionized anyway.

          Illegal action by management can certainly be backed up by HR in medium to large companies… and many smaller companies.

          Also, you failed to acknowledge that 95% of the working world is not represented by a union.  Are they all a bunch of stupid and unfortunate victims in your mind?  If union working life is so fine, then why don’t all the most progressive companies known as the best placed to work have union employees?  How does non-union Nugget market kick the ass of all the other unionized grocery stores for employee satisfaction.

          I don’t think you have a strong understanding of this stuff.  Maybe you just lack experience.

        2. Miwok

          Thank you Frankly,

          You are spot on..
          Since I don’t want to be a member of “any club who would have me as a member”. 🙂

          I did not want to perform illegal acts, so I refused and was disciplined for “insubordination”. :)\

        3. Frankly

          Now stop that.  I want someone to argue with!

          Here is a bit that explains the “implied contract” consideration:

          3. Does my employer need a good reason to discipline or fire me?
          Normally, no. There is no legal right to be treated “fairly” in the workplace. In California, as in almost all other states, the law permits employers to discipline (suspend or demote, for example) or fire their workers at will or, in other words, without needing or providing a reason. However, there are some significant exceptions to the rule. For example, your employer generally cannot discipline or fire you because of your age, race or certain other personal characteristics (see #4). Such actions would be considered illegal discrimination. And, in most instances, you cannot be fired or disciplined for reporting or complaining to law enforcement, a government agency, or your own employer about your employer’s illegal activities or safety violations. Nor can you be retaliated against for missing work to serve as a juror. Such terminations would be considered violations of public policy.

          Another exception to the at will rule might apply if you are fired from a job shortly after quitting another job or relocating based on the new employer’s job offer. Such an exception could apply if the new employer knew or should have known that the job offer wasn’t serious-or “real”-at the time it was made.

          Or, you may have a contract stating that you can only be fired for just or good cause. If your job classification is covered by a union-employer contract (collective bargaining agreement), that contract probably contains a just cause provision. Contact your union representative for assistance.

          Even without an oral or written contract, you may nevertheless have an implied contract that prohibits your employer from firing you without good cause. To determine whether an implied contract exists, a court would consider such factors as: the length of your employment, commendations and promotions, job performance evaluations, any assurances of continued employment (a promise of permanent job security, for example), and your employer’s employee handbooks and policies. There are no set criteria for establishing an implied contract; the court simply reviews all of the circumstances. Your employer must base any good cause termination on economics (such as a layoff) or poor job performance. If your contract was breached, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.

          Basically, anyone that has worked at a job for a number of years, and has had good performance evaluations cannot be fired except for a good cause unless the employer wants to risk the fired employee prevailing in a law suit.

          And then there are discrimination laws, sexual harassment laws, laws to force employers to accommodate any and every conceivable claim of disability, hostile work environment laws, requirement for safe working conditions, whistle-blower laws, etc., etc., etc.

          One of the primary performance expectations for HR is to minimize employee claims against the company.  A misbehaving manager that causes claims against the company would tend to be disciplined or fired based on standard HR protocol.

          The Mad Men days are long gone.  It is an employee’s world.

          Now, part of the reason that there are too few jobs is that all these labor laws have made it an employees world, and employers are the ones being harassed by employees that deserve to be fired but end up being protected by HR (generally because they are part of some victim class).

          In my perfect world there would be a very strong supply of jobs and employers would be competing for the best employees.  If an employee is treated poorly he/she would just quit and go work somewhere else where he/she is treated better.  This then would lead to the better managed company getting better employees and the company would perform better.  Eventually the poorly managed company would fail due to their inability to compete.


        4. Frankly

          I did not want to perform illegal acts, so I refused and was disciplined for “insubordination”

          How long ago?  Today in California you could sue that employer and get a big award.  You could do that an even force the employer to keep you employed, or pay you severance to agree to quit.

        5. Miwok

          I filed the claims that counted but he had friends in high places.. Whistle blowers are not tolerated at UC. Still.

          Sorry Frankly, when you are right you’re right!


  2. Matt Williams

    I raise this case because during the MRAP case, there has been a tendency to downplay the risk of the police possessing a military armored vehicle and the risk of militarization of police tactics.

    In this article there is a tendency to downplay the fact that the Davis Police Department has had and used a military armored vehicle (the Peacekeeper) since 1990 and the history of use and the absence of misuse of that military armored vehicle is a matter of public record.  Does anyone really think that the deployment and use of an item you can hold in your hand is comparable to the deployment of a military armored vehicle?

    1. Davis Progressive

      up until now if davis wanted to use an armored vehicle they had to coordinate with west sacramento and work with their SWAT partners to bring the vehicle to town.  that certainly has an effect on what situations the vehicle could be used.

      1. Matt Williams

        Understood DP.  My personal opinion is that that working relationship should not change.  Davis’ SWAT Team will continue to be a joint operational unit with West Sac.  I also believe that any armored vehicle that supports the Davis PD should be part of the SWAT Team infrastructure.

  3. Tia Will


    Unless I am misunderstanding your comment, your argument is essentially the same as those who say that we should not use the argument that because an officer has not been killed here in Davis by a semi automatic weapon does not mean that it cannot happen here. Bad things can and  do happen even if they have never happened before. But that is equally true no matter which side of the MRAP debate you are on.

    1. Matt Williams

      “Can not happen”

      Tia, everything can happen. We don’t live in a manechean world. David’s comment presumed guilt before innocence. It looked at non-Davis data and applied what that non-Davis told him to Davis. It was hyperbole pure and simple. My argument is for balance in the discussion (which is actually the topic of the bulk of David’s article). The reference to the non-Davis incident was gratuitous.

      With respect to your taser example, there is very little equivalency. The readiness and portability of the taser meant that an absence of considered judgement on the part of an officer presents a considerably different situation than the readiness and portability of the Peacekeeper armored vehicle has presented over the considerable history that Davis PD has had it. If the officer would have had to assemble the SWAT Team and then have the taser delivered to him in Davis from West Sacramento, do you think the taser incident you have cited would have happened?

      At Wharton our professors taught us about “barriers to entry” that affect the creation of new businesses/products. The use and deployment of a military armored vehicle in Davis faces very similar “barriers to entry” that very effectively (and almost totally) mitigate the chances of misuse. The 20+ year history of the deployment and use of the Peacekeeper since Davis/West Sac acquired it shows that those mitigation factors have produced the expected results. The deployment of the taser you cited is a low barrier to entry event. The deployment of the Peacekeeper (and its successor when/if such a successor becomes a reality) is a high barrier to entry event.

      Reading many of the comments about the police over the weeks since the MRAP acquisition hit the news, I notice a considerable amount of armchair psychiatry being practiced by the many posters (myself included). And that psychiatry of the mindset of police officers drives much of the commentary. I suspect none of us are trained in psychiatry, and I also suspect that any trained psychiatrist would tell us that drawing conclusions about all the members of a group of human beings from the actions of one single human being is a leap of faith that stretches too far. Police officers are human beings like you and me. They make mistakes like you and me. In our efforts to address the possibility of human mistakes that involve police officers, I think we have an obligation to value the police officers’ lives just as highly as we value the lives of the people they interact with … said another way, achieve a balance in the lives we protect.

      1. Tia Will


        What taser comment ?  I do not have any recollection of having made a comment about an episode of taser use.

        I have mentioned on several occasions the misuse of police equipment such as the pepper spraying incident and admitted mis- judgments in the use of force on the part of the police as in the Seattle WTO protest. But no taser use that I can recall.

        I think we have an obligation to value the police officers’ lives just as highly as we value the lives of the people they interact with … said another way, achieve a balance in the lives we protect.”

        You and I are incomplete agreement on this comment, but seem to have arrived at different conclusions as to the best way to achieve this goal. This also is to be anticipated as we are different people who see the world from different perspectives.

        One phrase that the facilitator for this event used frequently which resonated with me is ” you are all right …….partially”. I think that as people we have greater and lesser abilities to appreciate the validity of this statement.

        1. Matt Williams

          Tia, it was David’s taser comment, not yours.  See the fourth paragraph of his article.  My apologies for the attribution to you.  My point in response to your comment that I was responding to is the same though. It simply should read, “With respect to David’s taser example, there is very little equivalency”

        2. Davis Progressive

          the more likely scenario is what happened in sacramento – bad information or an overreach turns a small incident into a huge problem for the department.

        3. Matt Williams

          DP, with respect to a military armored vehicle, how do you have an “overreach turn a small incident into a huge problem”?  It seems to me that any incident that warrants the considered deployment of the vehicle by the joint Davis-West Sac SWAT Team will certainly not be a small incident.

          1. Matt Williams

            David, it will be interesting to hear about the Sacramento incident, both for what can be learned from the incident itself, as well as how that learning can be related to the military armored vehicle deployment protocols that the City of Davis PD and the joint Davis/West Sacramento SWAT Team have had in place (and used) for the past 20+ years with respect to their Peacekeeper military armored vehicle … which was deployed 43 times over the most recent 5 years in West Sac and Davis combined (about 25% of those deployments being in Davis).

  4. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > two friends arguing outside of their Glacier Point residents triggered a

    > Davis Police Officer, Lee Benson, to taser a resident.

    If we had the MRAP the cops could just pull up and pepper spray both people, and let’s not forget how the MRAP will come in handy if the cops ever need to roll on to the lawn of a house to verify if the guy mowing the lawn is the homeowner or just a burglar cleverly posing as a gardener…

    1. Matt Williams

      SoD, in order to do what you propose, an order to deploy the joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team would have to be issued, and the MRAP would have to be driven over from its garage in West Sacramento to Glacier Point in order to “pull up and taser both people.”

      That simply isn’t ever going to happen.

      1. South of Davis

        It looks like Matt missed my attempt at humor (that if we keep the MRAP we can use it for the many serious crimes in Davis like undergrads getting in a fight at an apartment and neighbors calling the cops thinking it is “suspicious”when an non-Latino is pushing a lawn mower in town)…

  5. PhilColeman

    ““We’ve gone from using dynamic entries, which is showing up real quick, jumping out of the car, busting through a door,” he said. Their new tactic is surround and call out – where the team is ready to go, surrounds the location, has a negotiator there and tells the party to come out.”

    The police tactic described above as “new,” is subject to individual interpretation as what “new” is, in terms of a time line.

    Calling upon extensive professional training and personal “hands on” experience, the new tactic of “surround and discuss” have been in use for over 40 years.



    1. South of Davis

      Phil wrote:

      > Calling upon extensive professional training and personal “hands on”

      >experience, the new tactic of “surround and discuss” have been in

      >use for over 40 years.

      As a big history buff I can tell you that the surround and discuss has been around for HUNDREDS of years.

      I don’t have any “professional” training but if I needed to take out some armed guys in a house I would put together a team and sneak up on them to catch them by surprise (not roll up in a four ton diesel powered rig giving them time to chamber rounds and get ready to shoot me when I came in)…


  6. Davis Progressive

    one of the reason militarization of the police has become an issue is that the equipment has been misused.  are we naive enough to be that will never be a problem here.

        1. Matt Williams

          Using the term “it won’t be a problem here” falls into the same manechean model. We would all be better served by following the model that Robb Davis used when he talked about the MRAP … citing the statistical likelihood that the event in question will happen. Robb very correctly said that the kind of “active shooter wounded officer/citizen down in the field of fire” situation that Chief Black described as one where the armor of the MRAP would provide cover in the case of a rescue effort, had such a low statistical likelihood of ever happening in Davis that it made the “realizable benefit” statistically insignificant. In my opinion, statistically insignificant is a very reasonable description of the chances that an armored vehicle will ever be misused in Davis.

          With that said. Can you humor me by describing the kind of hypothetical situation that might arise in Davis where the military armored vehicle might be misused?

        2. Miwok

          Matt, while I agree with the “low statistical probability”, the fact they already have a vehicle makes the point moot. If they don’t want the MRAP, then they should get rid of SWAT and the Peacemaker too. Then they just need a phone, and a list of people to call. No Tasers, No guns, just a whistle and a nightstick?

          Let’s get to the real point of this argument, the CC does not want ANY Tactical vehicles or Law Enforcement costing the City money?

        3. Miwok

          Matt, it seemed to be the point you were presenting, if the new MRAP can’t replace the Peacekeeper, and it is Obsolete, ergo neither should be used, making SWAT unnecessary. Just though you were going there..

          Sorry I misunderstood. I just think if the criminal who shot several people and killed Sheriffs recently had turned left instead of right, he would have been here instead of Auburn..

        4. Matt Williams

          Miwok, if that criminal had turned left instead of right he would indeed have come into (or through) the jurisdictional area of the joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team which is currently supported by the Peacekeeper, which looks very much like this (with a different paint job) …


          … as well as West Sacramento’s new MRAP, which looks exactly like this …


  7. hpierce

    “Cuts” in Police Dept. Budgets… DPD is “assigned” costs by Finance IS, and HR to ‘cover’ their costs/compensation increases/promotions, whether or not DPD gets those services.  PERS employer contributions for those departments/divisions and DPD have gone up due to investment results, somewhat independent of benefit increases.  Medical costs have gone up for all of those groups.

    I guess what those who are saying that DPD hasn’t taken cuts, is that the employees should have continually taken cuts and/or absorbed costs to keep other expenditures constant.  Mr Pytel is correct… for their “discretionary budget” there have been cuts every year.

    1. DavisBurns

      And why should the police be exempt from a downturn in the economy and the mantra of the last 40 years; no more with less.  Good for the rest of us, good for the cops. Frankly should like that cause they have to act like a private business and cut the fat, be lean etc.  I wonder that Frankly doesn’t want us to sub-contract out our police services in order to be more cost effective.

  8. Anon

    “But we didn’t get that kind of discussion Thursday night, and that was by design. The police felt that they had not been given a full opportunity prior to the MRAP story to lay out the need for such a vehicle.
    I get their concern – I even agree with their concern. At the same time, I worry about one-sided discussions in the public arena.”

    I get concerned when City Council members state from the dais there is nothing the police could say that would change that City Council member’s mind.  I get concerned when a City Council member grabs the attention of the national news without being willing to listen to all the facts first.  I get concerned when necessary police equipment is not replaced because of budget cuts, putting officers in harms way without appropriate protection.  IMO the one-sided discussion started in the City Council chambers by those who opposed the MRAP – and now fault is going to be laid at the door of the police for presenting their side to the community at a non-City Council venue?

    1. Tia Will


        IMO the one-sided discussion started in the City Council chambers by those who opposed the MRAP “

      I am a little confused by your comment. Are you asserting that the decision to acquire the MRAP was not a one sided decision on the part of the police. If you are making this point, the police who spoke at the forum would not be in agreement with your position as all who addressed this part of the issue were clear that it was one sided and would better have been brought early in the process to the attention of the council and community.

      1. Anon

        The City Council discussion was one-sided, because clearly at least three City Council members had already made up their minds (no doubt partly as a result of being flooded by anti-MRAP emails prior to the City Council meeting) before Chief Black ever opened his mouth.  That was my point.

        1. Davis Progressive

          those three had already issued statements in opposition in david’s initial article that broke the story.  so the idea that they were persuaded by anti-mrap emails does not fit the timeline of their statements

  9. Tia Will


    “are we naive enough to be that will never be a problem here.”

    From the demographic of the folks that were represented at this meeting, mostly white and of my age group ( early sixties) and older, I would say that this is likely true. I believe that the generation immediately ahead of me had a much more trusting perception of the police than is held by those of my age and younger. I think that the Viet Nam war represented a major shift in how people in my age group and younger came to view authority ( both that of the government and that of the police ) as we watched what we perceived as abuses of power unfolding around us.  I certainly never got back to my previously held image of “Officer Friendly” after having been threatened with batons and guns while at peaceful protests.

    This was the genesis of my appreciation that police officers are just people. They are subject to the same fears and concerns, mis-judgements and errors as are all human beings. The main difference is that we cede to them the right to wield and use weapons with the intent that they are there to protect us. Most of the time, this works out well for the law abiding citizen. Sometimes, not so much so as when there is an incorrect address, or a misunderstanding, or a mistaken identity, or an inappropriate decision of when to act or with what modality. Just as I, as a surgeon, can tell you of many medical mistakes and errors, I am sure that every policeman is aware of times when things have gone very wrong because of poor decisions or judgement on the part of the police. This is not said to in any way denigrate them since I am very grateful that they are there to do their job, but rather to recognize our common humanity with all its strengths and weaknesses.

  10. Anon

    “I certainly never got back to my previously held image of “Officer Friendly” after having been threatened with batons and guns while at peaceful protests.”

    Your experiences certainly don’t mirror mine.  On my college campus, demonstrators against the Viet Nam war were hardly peaceful, hooligans overturning cars and burning them, blocking the main street in front of the campus so no cars could get through.  And these demonstrators thought they were “justified” by the way, because I directly confronted one.

    1. Davis Progressive

      so your impressions of the police are shaped by your negative experiences with demonstrators while hers are shaped by her negative experience with police officers.

      1. Matt Williams

        DP, civil disobedience is called civil disobedience for a reason. As a person who has occupied a campus building for two days, it was very clear to me that when I walked into that building to affect that occupation with my fellow civil “disobeyers,” that I/we were violating established rules of order. Nonetheless, we felt that the rightness of our protest trumped those established rules of societal behavior. Much of what we did was “theater,” which is almost always the case when people choose to demonstrate … and many people (like anon in this case) feel that the quality of the theatrical production deserves a thumbs down.

        1. Tia Will


          This is a good illustration of how belonging to a particular political persuasion does not mean that people are monolithic in their views. My daughter and I are both towards the liberal end of the spectrum. We had very different views of the most recent Berkeley protests. While she understood and agreed with at least some of the points being made by the on campus protestors, she was personally inconvenienced and as such felt that they were mis-directing their efforts and should have gone to Sacramento ( or probably anywhere else) to stage their protest. I was more sympathetic to their position. But then, I wasn’t being inconvenienced.



        2. Matt Williams

          Well said Tia.

          My wife and I were in a similar situation vis-a-vis the on-campus occupations of the late ’60’s.  She was trying to get into Low Library at Columbia to try and study at the same time that Mark Rudd was leading the student occupation of Low Library.  her fears were that she would fail Physics if she didn’t study … she was inconvenienced.  While my occupation wasn’t at Columbia, but rather at Cornell, I was clearly in the broadly categorized group of people who were causing her that inconvenience.

    2. Tia Will


      Yes, it would appear that we had very different experiences and have drawn predictably very different conclusions based on those experiences. This is what I see as a major benefit of the Vanguard. In almost real time, it allows us to share our different points of view and perhaps gain some insight and understanding into how we came to have such different opinions. It seems to me that this is a necessary first step in any kind of collaborative action which is what our community definitely needs more of.


    3. sisterhood

      “hooligans” who were fed up hearing that their high school buddies who received a low draft number were coming home in body bags. Yeah, after a while those peaceful protesters became hooligans and at Kent state, they paid with their lives.

      1. Matt Williams

        Indeed they did pay with their lives sisterhood, and nothing that can be done can/could bring those lives back. However, a quick review of the 72 hours prior to the shootings clearly shows that the “hooligans” did not limit themselves to simply being a whole lot more than “fed up hearing that their high school buddies who received a low draft number were coming home in body bags.” Friday night the “hooligans” vandalized numerous downtown stores and activated a bank’s alarm system by breaking the bank’s front window. Saturday, the “holliganism” escalated to arson of the campus Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) building. Do those events justify the firing of even one round on Sunday, much less 67 rounds? Absolutely not. But to paint the demonstrators as lily white is swinging the pendulum much too far in the other direction.

        Our protests at Cornell did not result in downtown vandalism or arson, but having been very close to the people who were at the core of the demonstration planning, I know first hand that we came very, very close to that level of confrontation. Keeping peaceful protests peaceful was a tall order.

      1. Matt Williams

        Miwok, when it comes to controlling vandalism at sports parades, the Chicago Cubs have the current lock on the best way to do that.  When they last had a sports parade in their honor Turkey was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

  11. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    but it is a lie to say you had “cuts” to your budget.”

    Since it might have been my  post that gave you this impression, I want to be absolutely clear that I don’t believe that Assistant Chief Pytel was lying. David may have adequately clarified this, but I do not want anyone to believe that I am doubting any of the statements made by the police at this forum. What I understood Mr. Pytel to say is that the police were asked on a yearly basis to present possible cuts to their budget. As David pointed out this is very, very different from saying that there had been cuts yearly. I am making a very big point of this because I believe that the police are speaking and acting in good faith and I would not have any of my comments lead or mislead people to believe anything else.

  12. tj

    Actually, the police often lie, even in Davis, nothing they say can be believed, no matter how big or small the issue is.

    When cops lie and protect the dept., they earn a promotion.

    1. Frankly

      If we didn’t have so many people plagued with disrespect for the law and eager to break it for their own personal gain, we would not need police… or at least we would not need as many and they would not need high-powered rifles and military-style protective gear.  Why don’t you turn your ire at the criminals and law breakers?

  13. Tia Will


    Actually, the police often lie, even in Davis, nothing they say can be believed, no matter how big or small the issue is.”

    I know that under some circumstances the police lie. I know because I was told so by Darren Pytel. His statement was that police lie under very constrained circumstances with very limited goals in mind. He believes that the circumstances under which lying is considered allowable are justified. I do not necessarily agree with this point of view, but I understand the rationale.

    I do not agree that “nothing that they say can be believed.” I suspect that you must have had some very bad experiences with police to have come to this conclusion. I heard plenty at the forum with which I did not agree, but nothing that led me to believe that any one was lying. Presenting from their perspective with no counter balancing perspective, certainly. But lying, I don’t believe so.

  14. Miwok

    Many of these points have good intentions I am sure.

    It points out to me how some good people view the PD as adversaries, and some as friends and back them up so they feel supported and not targets. If an officer pulls up, it must be intimidating to see people surround him with comments and video cameras to find fault with any miniscule detail.

    It was pointed out protesters are performing Civil Disobedience, but criminals never elevate a conversation to that level. I do not know the assets of the DPD, but the sharing of assets with SWAT and West Sacramento tell me they leverage as much as they can. They also would like to know the people of their city are behind them.

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