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UCLAPD taser investigation
August 6, 2007 3:53 AM   Subscribe

UCLA releases the results of an independent investigation into an incident where a UCLAPD officer repeatedly tasered a passively resisting student (previously on MetaFilter). The investigation found that the officer violated UCLA's use of force policies. Furthermore, it found that these policies are "unduly permissive" and that "the UCLAPD policy stands alone in its legitimization of the Taser as a pain compliance device against passive resisters." An internal investigation by UCLAPD previously determined that there was no violation.
posted by grouse (31 comments total)

 
shocking.
posted by srboisvert at 4:10 AM on August 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


srboisvert should be tasered for that comment.

---

I'm glad that UCLA are still taking this event seriously and hopefully they will be taking steps to rectify the situation regarding Taser use.
posted by knapah at 4:20 AM on August 6, 2007


I would have liked to see how the internal investigation reached its opposite conclusions. "Sure, the public independent report says we did bad but we have written a secret report totally exonerating ourselves! Who are you going to believe, the police or your lying eyes?"
posted by grouse at 4:26 AM on August 6, 2007


Some comments from the previous thread:

"That video made me sick. I'm disgusted by the behavior of the cops, but not surprised: torturing people is in their nature.

"Can you see any raging cop erections during the tasering?"

"No one asked the real question : WHAT THE FUCK POLICE DOING IN A CAMPUS?????"

"Ice Cube will swarm
On any muthafucka in a blue uniform
Just cuz I'm from the CPT, punk police are afraid of me
A young nigga on a warpath
And when I'm finished, it's gonna be a bloodbath
Of cops, dyin in LA
Yo Dre, I got somethin to say

Fuck the police"

"I hate this country."

"Man! Stinkin' badge-bearing wannabe alpha-dog enforcers! Sorry, I've gots much disdain for cops these days, due to some recent events. And it truly is such a rare event when one of them is calm and collected and professional while executing their duty. "

"I'm not adding anything to the discussion, but am simply dropping in to say I fucking hate police."
posted by iviken at 4:46 AM on August 6, 2007


Let's be clear that UCLA campus security are "police" in the same way that the Spice Girls are a "band." They are the flotsam and jetsam who couldn't get jobs with actual municipal or state or federal police agencies. Already, police gigs at any level attract thugs and bullies who like the idea of power over other people. These play-police gigs attract the worst of *those* thugs and bullies.

But yes, "fuck the -- UCLA -- police" is appropriate if you've seen this episode on tape, and considered their pathetic self-exonerating "report." The University really ought to disband its police force and start from scratch with a new concept. And only the real police should ever be armed with anything, including tasers.

I've know quite a few guys who became cops at various levels. Almost to a one, they were sociopaths. Make of that what you will.
posted by spitbull at 5:05 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I still find it deeply weird that a university would have a police force, let alone an armed police force.
posted by ninebelow at 5:12 AM on August 6, 2007


There's a lovely story on Digg about a five year old boy just killed in Oklahoma because a police officer thought it would be a good idea to shoot a snake. Nevermind leaving it alone, if you want to kill a snake, the appropriate method is a shovel or some kind of blunt instrument on the end of a long stick. You give a guy a gun, or a Taser, and they just itch to use it. When you then authorize some kind of force spectrum, well, it's just a matter of time before the appropriate rationalization meets the right situation.
posted by adipocere at 5:13 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've know quite a few guys who became cops at various levels. Almost to a one, they were sociopaths.

Same here. Although I know a few women who did it for the paycheck.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 5:14 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would have liked to see how the internal investigation reached its opposite conclusions.

The same way that almost every organization's internal investigation reaches its opposite conclusions, where mistakes are made and lawsuits loom on the horizon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:28 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I still find it deeply weird that a university would have a police force, let alone an armed police force.

This isn't unique to the U.S. The University of Cambridge has its own constabulary, but I think that is unique in the UK. I really doubt any of its members are armed.
posted by grouse at 5:32 AM on August 6, 2007


I don't know if iviken's quotations are supposed to be in defense of the police, but if so I hardly think the guys who a) are lionized by 90% of the public and b) carry the guns need any help defending themselves.
posted by DU at 5:49 AM on August 6, 2007


Prohibiting the use of Tasers on passively resistant subjects and on handcuffed suspects.

The independent report recommended the above be added to UCLA Police policy...I think that says everything that needs to be said about where the U.S. is heading...

One of the funny things I found as an American in Germany is how normal the cops looked in their nice green uniforms driving around in stationwagons. It really made an impression to come back and see my towns paramilitary err.... police force: tall muscled men with shaved heads in black uniforms, in heavily armed police 'cruisers.'

oh well...
posted by geos at 6:14 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I still find it deeply weird that a university would have a police force, let alone an armed police force.

The students at my alma mater represent 60% of the town's population. The dorms alone represent about 20%. There are two very different sets of needs, and for the most part they're geographically distinct. It makes sense to have it be an independent organization.

Plus, since the university force has different accountability, it's less subject to the whims of antagonistic townies (U.S. slang, not British) who hate students even though their livelihood depends on them.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:19 AM on August 6, 2007


Spitbull's characterization of university police forces couldn't be more wrong, at least as far as the UCLA PD.

Public university police forces in California have full government powers (as they are, after all, a government agency).

They usually have the same or better pay and benefits than nearby municipal police departments. For example, the UCLA PD starts officers at $58,400 a year. The LAPD starts officers at as little as $54,500 a year, although college graduates (a small proportion of entry-level officers) can make $58,800.

For this reason, and because they typically offer a safer work environment (drunk fratboys vs. gangbangers) and much less propensity for geographically remote and/or otherwise undesirable postings, they are often able to be more selective in their hiring than nearby municipal police departments.

(This is, of course, a typical pattern -- people naturally want a premium to be paid a premium to police the inner city and police forces charged with doing so rarely have the budget to do so.)
posted by MattD at 6:39 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I haven't forgiven UCLA since they arrested me for shoplifting, although I was, in fact, guilty of shoplifting. I'm mad because nobody else had ever caught me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:53 AM on August 6, 2007


There are two very different sets of needs, and for the most part they're geographically distinct. It makes sense to have it be an independent organization.

I think the objection is over the assumption of their being enough trouble on campus to require a full time police presence, before you even get to the issue of how to organise it.

I get the impression police in America have much more low-level involvement in community matters - "kid wouldn't show his library card" would never be a police matter in the UK. In the same situation I'd reckon the guard would have either dropped the matter or called a supervisor to sort things out. The guy would have to pull a knife or something for the police to be called.
posted by cillit bang at 6:54 AM on August 6, 2007


There are two very different sets of needs

Like what?

By the way, TASER stands for Thomas A Swift's Electrical Rifle. Old school.
posted by ninebelow at 7:34 AM on August 6, 2007


There are two very different sets of needs

ninebelow: Like what?

I'm speculating here, but it seems to me that a college campus would see things like public drunkenness and underage drinking, sexual assault, traffic violations, and petty theft more than the rest of the population. It would probably have less full-out burglary, gang violence, white collar crime. That's my guess.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:51 AM on August 6, 2007


At my college, the police were seen as being very helpful. They were especially helpful in providing a safe environment for students (especially women) to walk around in at night. Those I knew who did get in trouble with the law where thankful when campus police were around when the city cops showed up - the city cops were known for beating those they arrested (putting one student in the hospital for a fortnight), but didn't beat students when the campus police were present. Also, the police would break up parties and fights before things got out of hand without hauling everyone off to jail.

That said, our cops were unarmed. I do also recall a few incidents of racial profiling in ID checks happening. Campus police are definitely a necessary presence, and in almost all cities I believe they would be superior to having the local police involved. But in some sense power corrupts - the real question is how, with training, oversight, hiring practices, etc., can you give police the powers they need but keep those powers from being abused. Certainly some powers (like guns and tasers) are a worse opportunity for corruption than a useful power for police.
posted by noble_rot at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2007


What Riki tiki said. Universities are invariably small cities unto themselves. The job of the police is to keep order in the university and respond to crimes while pretty much leaving the students alone when engaging in infractions that don't hurt anyone on campus but would be regarded as "quality of life crimes" that the city would try to crack down on (public drunkenness and disturbing the peace probably better handed administratively rather than criminally).

Campus police at my university were deputized members of the city police force. It was considered a good job to get because the pay was in line with other police departments, yet there was obviously a lot less danger involved.

Interestingly, in New York City, such separate police forces are illegal. Universities have some kind of security services that don't have police powers.
posted by deanc at 8:50 AM on August 6, 2007


Campus police should all be 60+ yr. old grandmothers. They do the ear hold thing and make everyone apologize for their inappropriate behaviour.
posted by notreally at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


MattD, that may be so for UCLA, but I've spent my entire life around universities and have known more than a few university cops, and had many dealings (now as a professor) with university security. Pay and working conditions don't tell you everything here. I know, right now, 3 university cops at NY campuses who were unqualified for various reasons for the NYPD.

The thing is, people don't necessarily become cops for the pay and benefits and lovely working conditions. They become cops because they want to boss other people around and have ultimate authority and carry weapons, or even use them. That attracts sociopaths in unusual numbers. Nothing can convince me otherwise, because I know it's true from literally a couple of dozen examples -- every *single* person I know who became a cop at any level was a bully. Those bullies would rather have the state or city or federal shield than a tin star from UCLA or any other campus.

All the evidence one needs is in the video of this incident anyway.
posted by spitbull at 9:31 AM on August 6, 2007


grouse writes "This isn't unique to the U.S. The University of Cambridge has its own constabulary, but I think that is unique in the UK. I really doubt any of its members are armed."

I dunno, I wouldn't want to find myself on the business end of that spear in the photograph.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure I could take this pile of old men single handed, spears or no spears.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2007


spitbull, what are you a professor of, anyway? Confirmation bias and mistaking anecdotes for data?

I've known many professors who seemed more interested in promoting and working with those who flattered their egos or studied the subjects in they way the professor prefers than in teaching, and actively tried to remove students from a college because they didn't approve of their lifestyle, (for example, having to work to support themselves). I'm not going to say that all professors are small-minded ego-centric tyrants.

I will say that people who are virulently anti-police have entitlement complexes that would make Paris Hilton blush, because this is true in every single person I've met who was anti-cop. Nothing can convince me otherwise. (Well, actually I'm lying, about the last sentence, because I try not to let confirmation bias and my limited experience color my judgment of everyone.)
posted by Snyder at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2007


every *single* person I know who became a cop at any level was a bully

If I had to be a cop I'd be a bully too. As it is I've been a security guard, and seen how ineffective I was at controlling situations because I was too polite, and didn't escalate quickly enough.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:24 PM on August 6, 2007


...I hardly think the guys who a) are lionized by 90% of the public...

You know, I really don't think this is true. A lot of people say they admire or respect cops, but I think in a lot of cases, it's like Republican politicians saying they have respect and admiration for families and "middle-class" values and accountable government. Police are nice and wonderful when they're not around, but as soon as they have any interaction with cops, or the legal system in general, they treat or think of them as incompetent, malignant, or just generally beneath them.
posted by Snyder at 3:24 PM on August 6, 2007



I will say that people who are virulently anti-police have entitlement complexes that would make Paris Hilton blush, because this is true in every single person I've met who was anti-cop.


Warm fuzzies to you too, Snyder. It doesn't matter what kind of professor I am. Not only do I now work in a university (and have worked at others). I went to several. And I grew up in an academic family. I've had dealings or encounters with university security/cops since childhood. On top of that, I spent my late teens and early 20s hanging out in Irish and Italian blue collar circles in Boston, which is why I know a lot of guys who became cops. And I've also had way more than my share of, shall we say, unpleasant dealings with cops as the object of their negative attentions.

I'm sure there are good cops. I've known some, but not well, and no one I knew who *became* a cop was not a bully *before* becoming one.

I am aware of the risk of confirmation bias. But there are no statistics available on how many cops are sociopaths or bullies. All we have is the anecdotal and documentary evidence.
posted by spitbull at 3:56 PM on August 6, 2007


Yeah, but seriously now. Fuck the police.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:09 PM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok, let's get beyond the definition of campus cop, and the qualifications to become one. Since this almost certainly varies from state to state and country to country, it's like trying to play "pin the tail on the jello."

The University's independent investigation has determined that the officer(s) a) did something wrong b) did something against policy and c) that policy as it stands is way too harsh (implying that what the officer did is way beyond the pale of what "policy" should have been). That being the case, I sincerely hope that the University takes the obvious step of a) rewriting policy for their errant organization to conform with University expectations b) reprimands the supervisory staff that allowed this to happen and c) FIRES the officer(s) in question.

thread over, go home
posted by ilsa at 4:57 PM on August 6, 2007


I'm sure there are good cops. I've known some, but not well, and no one I knew who *became* a cop was not a bully *before* becoming one.

Reminds me of an Onion article.

Former High-School Bully Pulls You Over For Speeding
posted by Mr_Zero at 5:15 PM on August 6, 2007


Funny cus it's true, QED.
posted by Challahtronix at 5:40 PM on August 6, 2007


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