UC Davis searching for new police chief

The University of California, Davis, has begun a national search for a new police chief to lead a department emerging from the shadow of a pepper-spraying incident that drew international notoriety two years ago.

National recruiting firm Bob Murray & Associates posted the online listing in the last few weeks, seeking a candidate with “chief-level experience” to lead the campus police department. Salary for the position ranges from $94,080 to $169,344, depending on experience, according to the job listing.

The UC Davis Police Department is currently led by Matt Carmichael, who earns $154,000 a year, according to UCD officials. But Carmichael’s role as police chief was considered a “temporary arrangement,” said university spokesman Keith Sterling on Monday.

“It was ultimately known that a national search would be launched,” Sterling said, adding that the university “would expect Chief Carmichael will go through the application process.”

Carmichael replaced former chief Annette Spicuzza, who retired under fire after campus police clad in riot gear pepper-sprayed student protesters who demonstrated against proposed tuition hikes on the campus’ quad Nov. 18, 2011.

When he was sworn in as police chief in April 2012, Carmichael was a 27-year law enforcement veteran, the last 10 of those as a UC Davis police lieutenant.

Sterling said Murray and Associates will vet candidates and send the pool to a university recruitment advisory committee made up of Academic Senate members, student leaders, university faculty and staff and other campus groups. The application deadline is Jan. 31.

A call to Carmichael’s office Monday was not returned.

The images from the pepper-spray incident became an Internet sensation, drawing international outrage and prompting an investigation by a specially convened task force led by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso. It also led to a wholesale review of department policy and practices by the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, as well as oversight of the department by the university’s provost.

Reynoso proposed a slate of recommendations in a scathing report that blasted university leaders for “systematic failures” in its response to the peaceful protests. The report also categorized university police as dysfunctional, ill-equipped and insubordinate.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi looked within the embattled police force to hire Carmichael, and the new chief focused almost immediately on repairing the department’s reputation. He said his top priority was to restore trust between his force and the campus’ students; promised to add more bike and foot patrols to be more accessible to students; and assured a more professionally run force than past incarnations.

Though campus officers on duty during the protests were cleared of any criminal conduct by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, John Pike, the visored police lieutenant who sprayed the students, was fired, and Spicuzza decamped to a Seattle suburb to serve as an interim police chief.

UC Davis paid a $1 million settlement to 21 students involved in the protests – about $30,000 each – and offered a written apology from Katehi.