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UC Davis appoints new campus police chief

Matthew Carmichael replaces Annette Spicuzza on a one-year contract. Spicuzza resigned Wednesday in the wake of the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying of protesters on campus.

April 20, 2012|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
  • UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, right, greets members of Matthew Carmichael's family before his swearing-in as the new campus police chief.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, right, greets members of Matthew Carmichael's… (Renee C. Byer / Sacramento…)

UC Davis announced Thursday that it has appointed a new chief to head its campus police force for at least a year and to help guide it past the controversies stemming from last November's pepper-spraying of student demonstrators by its officers.

Matthew Carmichael, who has been acting chief since November and a lieutenant on the campus force for a decade before that, was sworn in for a yearlong term, UC Davis officials said. The school said it would launch a national search later for a longer-term chief.

Carmichael replaces Chief Annette Spicuzza, who resigned Wednesday, a week after a UC investigative report lambasted her leadership in the pepper-spraying incident.

In a message to the campus, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi described Carmichael as "highly respected as a leader, adviser and innovator not only within our department and across our campus, but also throughout the law enforcement community."

Carmichael said his top priority would be to rebuild the relationship with students and the rest of the campus community, according to a statement released Thursday.

Spicuzza, who headed the UC Davis force since 2005, had been on paid administrative leave since soon after the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying incident. She sent her resignation letter to the university Wednesday, said campus spokesman Barry Shiller.

Last week, a UC task force probing the controversial handling of the demonstrators blasted Spicuzza for running a "dysfunctional" department, and declared her officers' actions were wrong.

A separate internal investigation by the campus Police Department is reviewing possible disciplinary actions against the chief and several officers, including Lt. John Pike, who is seen spraying the students in a much-viewed online video. Shiller said that internal probe was nearing completion, but that he did not know whether Spicuzza had been told of any proposed disciplinary action against her. Pike and another officer remain on paid administrative leave, Shiller said.

Spicuzza reportedly sent an email to the Sacramento Bee in which she said the spraying and investigation led to her departure.

"As the university does not want this incident to be its defining moment, nor do I wish for it to be mine. I believe in order to start the healing process, this chapter of my life must be closed," she wrote.

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