By hiring a private company with a host of conflicting interests, the university is creating a major PR gaffe -- at best
In light of the recent ignominious episodes at University of California campuses--chiefly the pepper spray incident at UC Davis--President Mark G. Yudof is ordering an independent investigation of police protocol.
The idea, as spelled out in an announcement on Yudof's Facebook page, is "to provide [Chancellor Katehi] and the entire University of California community with an independent, unvarnished report about what happened at Davis" that can help develop guidelines for dealing with future non-violent protests.
We've all seen the infamous 8-minute YouTube video of Lt. Pike blithely pepper-spraying benign, if uncooperative, student protesters. That video leaves little doubt that the use of pepper spray was unnecessary. But it doesn't provide answers to other critical questions. What were Lt. Pike's orders from his superiors? What words did he exchange with the protesters? Does he have any justification for using pepper spray? An independent investigation to answer those questions, among others, makes sense.
But will the investigation be independent? Yudof has picked the Kroll Security Group, and its chairman Bill Bratton, for the job. Bratton has been praised for his stewardship of the New York Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. But Kroll comes with a whole host of potential conflicts of interest, and students and faculty are already balking at the choice.