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UC faculty group decries Bill Bratton leading pepper spray probe

University of California faculty association says former L.A. Police Chief William Bratton, now a consultant, is the wrong choice to investigate the pepper spraying of UC Davis students.

November 24, 2011|By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
  • Former LAPD police chief William Bratton is shown at Dodger Stadium earlier this year. Bratton has been chosen to lead an investigation into the pepper spraying of student protesters at UC Davis.
Former LAPD police chief William Bratton is shown at Dodger Stadium earlier… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Members of a University of California faculty group on Wednesday voiced opposition to the hiring of former Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton to lead an investigation into the pepper spraying of student protesters at UC Davis, arguing that his background made him an inappropriate choice.

The professors also complained that faculty and students were not consulted, and asserted that UC President Mark G. Yudof's involvement in selecting Bratton posed a conflict.

"The office of the president should not be investigating itself in this matter, when one thing that needs to be investigated is what role the office had," said UC Santa Cruz professor Robert Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Assns.

PHOTOS: Pepper spray incident

Meister said the council's board, which is made up of faculty associations from the university's 10 campuses, would write a letter to Yudof expressing its concerns.

In announcing Bratton's appointment Tuesday, Yudof said he was acting on a request from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) for an independent review of the events of Friday, in which campus police used pepper spray on nonviolent protesters.

In an interview with The Times on Tuesday, Bratton — now chairman of the New York-based Kroll security consulting firm — acknowledged that several "controversial incidents" involving police confrontations with protesters occurred during his stint as Los Angeles chief. But he lauded the subsequent police investigations.

Some faculty, however, said that history is problematic.

"This is being led by a former cop who is charging a lot of money we don't have to spend and whose experience is not promoting free speech but figuring out efficient ways to deny free speech," said UC Irvine professor Mark LeVine, who is chairman of the faculty association at his campus. "There are a huge number of eminently qualified professors and scholars in house who could suggest outside people if need be and would have the trust of the majority of the university community."

Bratton could not be reached for comment Wednesday. UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said neither Yudof nor anyone in his office would have any hands-on role in Bratton's investigation, adding that criticism of the process was premature.

Results of the inquiry are expected within 30 days, Klein said, and will be presented to a review panel that will include students and faculty.

Klein said Bratton's fee is being negotiated, but the typical rate is $300 an hour, which would be paid from insurance reserves and not from the university's operating budget.

"This is an independent, experienced consultant, and his experience speaks perfectly to these types of situations," Klein said.

PHOTOS: Pepper spray incident

carla.rivera@latimes.com

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