Reviewing Occupation

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Perhaps, because it is summer or too much time has passed, but the release of the campus Police Review Board's report on the events of Nov. 20 has elicited a surprisingly low-key reaction. While the protest and the administration's response to it inspired great controversy, last Wednesday's news was an injection of sober-minded thought into this contentious saga.

The report was well-received because it was meticulously researched and covered an impossibly complex situation with a sense of balance and perspective. Still, it has imperfections, and a seven-week delay in the UCPD's internal review was unfortunate at best and actively harmful to the investigation at worst.

While the report acknowledged that the UCPD is staffed by good people with good intentions, it was critical of how poorly the administration and UCPD communicated with outside police agencies, the protesters, the public and each other. Most disturbing is the allegation that Captain Margo Bennett, a high-ranking officer, failed to follow basic procedure for calling in outside aid. According to the report, this caused outside agencies to come armed in a way that was unnecessary and served mainly to inflame tensions.

The Police Review Board was given the mandate of looking at the actions of the police, rather than of the students. Of course, it was impossible to avoid discussion of the protesters' culpability, but the focus was clear. However, this is no excuse to forget the simple fact that none of the violence of the day would have occurred if a group of students did not violate basic campus rules and prevent their peers from taking advantage of their education.

Our ultimate hope is that the report will serve as a tool for the administration and police to use in reassessing the tactics they use in responding to future unlawful and disruptive demonstrations. They have said that they are already in the process of implementing some recommendations made by the board. But the proof of this will be in the pudding when the next such event inevitably occurs.






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