Scott Report Set to Be Released in Early January

Earlier this week the Vanguard reported that Chief Darren Pytel has received the Picnic Day report and is in the process of evaluating it.  When we spoke with the chief, his anticipation was that it would be ready before the conclusion of the city business this week.  However, City Manager Mike Webb told the Vanguard on Friday that that will not be the case.

“I anticipate an announcement and information to be forthcoming shortly after the first of the year,” Mike Webb told the Vanguard.

A key consideration here is the fact that, to the extent that this report might contain in it adverse actions against personnel, there would need to be time for the personnel to appeal to the city manager.  For that reason, at this point the city manager has not read the report, as he is the person that would review any appeals from officers hit with adverse actions.

We asked if an appeal could push the release of the report back past the target date which might be as soon as January 2, and Mr. Webb said, “No, I don’t expect delays.”

To date, only Chief Pytel in the city has seen this report, and not the city council or city manager.  Decisions still have to be made as to what the public will get to see.

An additional factor, shared by several members of council in addition to the city manager, is the idea of not putting out the report right before city hall closes for the holidays.  That would
leave members of the public without a clear outlet to express dissatisfaction with the report and the findings.

Mindful of optics, some expressed concern that the city could be accused of putting out controversial information (no matter how the report ultimately rules) at a time when no one is paying attention.

Moreover, City Manager Webb felt it was beneficial to have the report come out with a city council meeting in the near future, where citizens would have a vehicle and platform to engage.  The council meets on Tuesday, December 19, and then not again until January 9.

A January 2 release would allow the public to speak during public comment within a week of the release of the report.

On April 22, around 3:30 pm, three Davis police officers were involved in an altercation with a number of individuals who had gathered at the corner of Russell Boulevard and College Park.  Ultimately, five individuals were arrested and pled to reduced charges.

Because of public controversy, the city originally named former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness to head the investigation, however, he quickly bowed out after the Vanguard revealed he had made remarks that African Americans were better off before the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The city then named McGregor Scott to replace him.

From the start the city has been vague about what would be released to the public.  Part of the release of this is complicated by two factors.  One is new personnel rules governing the release of records that would be deemed to be personnel files.  In addition, the 2006 Copley Press decision by the California Supreme Court held that records of sustained misconduct charges are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public.

The decision prevents the public from learning the extent to which police officers have been disciplined as a result of misconduct.  Prior to that, Penal Code section 832.7 prevented public access to citizen complaints held by the employing agency, which meant that internal affairs records were confidential, but records of appeals to outside agencies were open to the public.

As the ACLU noted in a 2007 primer: “Copley Press has effectively shut off all avenues for the public to learn about misconduct involving individual police officers, such as excessive force and dishonesty; officer-involved shootings; patterns of misconduct and leniency; previous discipline for misconduct by another agency; and even the identity of officers in misconduct cases.”

In a commentary earlier this week, the Vanguard suggested that the city follow the model of UC Davis for the release of this report, by looking at the Kroll Report from 2012 following the Pepper Spray incident.  Here was a similar case – high profile, and the university hired outside investigators, Kroll, to investigate the matter.  They turned in a lengthy report, but redacted the names of the officers.

So the public will continue to wait for the release of the Scott report, but the end is in sight.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Commentary: Transparency is Essential to Build Trust for Police Oversight

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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. Keith O

    That would leave members of the public without a clear outlet to express dissatisfaction with the report and the findings.

    We can’t have that, can we?  We need to release it at the best time to make sure that same old crowd of social warriors have their opportunity to get in front of a mike and grandstand.

  2. PhilColeman

    I am certain beyond all doubt that other city personnel have read this report aside from the Chief of Police. The City Attorney’s Office surely received a copy. Chief Pytel will surely share the findings with the chain-of-command between he and the line officers. He has a sworn duty to do so. The Police Officers’ Association is entitled to be fully informed so they can examine and prepare for any public or internal reaction from their constituents. The Chief is reviewing the findings and recommendations and will take under advisement any recommendations for policy changes, with input from his top subordinate managers.

    The most curious remarks in this column is the representation of the City Manager’s position. Did Mr. Webb specifically say he has not, and will not, read this report pending any disciplinary appeals that may be forthcoming?

    There is no reason for the City Manager to avoid reading the report right now. He needs to prepare for questions, concerns, possible investigative voids, and even the very process that the hired investigators took to summarize the findings rendered. Mr. Webb is certain to receive questions from his five bosses. He would not avoid reading the source document for the questions that come to him.

    Assuming disciplinary action does result (which would be be predicated on internal department findings as well) the Manager would review all known and available relevant information as part of his determination of an appeal. That would include this City-commissioned investigation. Therefore, he could read the report immediately and consider it as just part of the total package of information.

    Note the pre-conceived bias shown that the report will result in dissatisfaction, and opportunities will be made available for the public to express their assured unhappiness.

    Also certain is that many persons in the community with no political agenda or direct involvement will find the report to be thorough, balanced, and fair–with all views shown, measured, and credibility assessed. Presumably those who come to this conclusion also get an opportunity to express their confidence and satisfaction.

    One thing is for certain with this pending report. We’ve been repeatedly been served a partial presentation of purported facts and circumstances, nothing of which was even remotely supportive of the police or showing any potential mitigating circumstances, other than the convicted felons. The involved officers have already been judged, found guilty, and disciplined administered, including the public call that one resign and leave town. All these premature assertions and judgments may prove to be prophetic, but what if they’re not? There would probably be some dissatisfaction.

    This report was prepared by professional investigators for whom nobody raised any objections. They were given license to seek and obtain all available information and interview all known and previous unknown witnesses willing to give statements. All available evidence would include phone video recordings from passers-by given to the Police Department. While there is certainty this report will create dissatisfaction, this time we the public can evaluate the credibility of this dissatisfaction now that we hear the entire story.



    1. Keith O

      There’s only two possible scenarios that will come from the findings, either the police department or the report get crucified.  Our local activists will not accept anything else.

    2. darelldd

      >> Note the pre-conceived bias shown that the report will result in dissatisfaction <<

      I agree that this assumption was both glaring and inappropriate in the article. If we never leave room for satisfaction, I guess we’ll never get it.

      >> nothing of which was even remotely supportive of the police or showing any potential mitigating circumstances, other than the convicted felons. The involved officers have already been judged, found guilty, and disciplined administered <<

      The odd part about this contention is that originally, the involved officers were found to be entirely innocent, and the now “convicted felons” were 100% at fault because they beat up these plain-clothed men who arrived in an unmarked car who – were were told – were obviously identified as police officers. We don’t know what the report will find, but there certainly exists the chance that  this initial, wildly-biased view was also an incorrect application of “out of court” justice.

      While the reporting here may not have not been supportive of the police, can we agree that the initial reporting from the police wasn’t even remotely supportive of those Picnic Day 5 who were convicted? Was that acceptable, while what’s currently happening is not? Would mitigation of the first bias have soften the pendulum swing to the other bias?

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