Faculty, students, staff voice concerns at town hall meetings

Three town hall meetings were held at the Student Community Center (SCC) on Feb. 15 to discuss what the Davis community would like to see in its new police chief.

Five individuals representing the entire police chief search team led open discussions that took place at 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Faculty, staff and students were encouraged to attend to voice their opinions and ask the team questions.

According to Gary Peterson, a representative from executive search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates, this process is very important to the overall search. The feedback they received at the town hall meeting will shape the candidates pursued, as well as influence potential interview questions.

“I think this type of forum with not only faculty and staff and of course the students is essential for the search process,” Peterson said. “Getting everyone’s inputs on the traits and characteristics of the next police chief will help shape the recruitment. When we go out and recruit for the next chief, we want the person [who’s] going to fit here at UC Davis. Getting the thoughts and ideas from the constituents and groups is the way to go.”

At the first town hall meeting, fewer than 10 people were in attendance; they consisted mainly of UC Davis staff and faculty. Those in attendance responded to questions posed by the search committee and spoke openly about what they would like in the candidate. Many audience members expressed the desire to have a police chief who integrated into the community of Davis. One individual noted that they enjoyed seeing former Police Chief Matt Carmichael around town and participating in the Picnic Day floats.

One of the facilitators of the town hall, Paul Cody, the assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement, agreed with the attendants at the town hall and offered his own take on the future chief’s integration into the community.

“This campus is really about relationships,” Cody said. “There are many times where a person in that position of power doesn’t necessarily interact with a lot of constituents on campus. This is a great opportunity to be a part of the community where often times people have a voice, which could also be a challenge.”

An open discussion was held toward the end of the the town hall meeting. One attendee mentioned that they felt there was a lack of involvement from the police force at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. This individual hoped for a leader that would show more support to the center and help bridge the divide they felt existed.

The meeting adjourned at 10:50 a.m. after there were no more comments during an open floor discussion.

The committee hosted its third town hall meeting of the day at 5:30 p.m., one that was specifically for students. The meeting initially had no students show up to participate, so Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life Milton Lang asked students in the nearby vicinity at the SCC to enjoy some free pizza and offer their feedback. Students then entered the multipurpose room and engaged with the committee representative in an informal discussion.

Students were asked what would make a new police chief successful at Davis. Many students voiced a desire for transparency in the new chief, citing the 2011 pepper spray incident. Additionally, students noted that they hoped the next chief would be visible in the community and understand the way of life within a college town. Lang noted that the committee was currently using this criteria in its search.

“We have been talking about this as a committee that whoever is hired has a higher level of tolerance when students are protesting and are able to work with students who are doing protests,” Lang said. “We are looking for somebody who can really understand a college campus culture and the diversity that come with that.”

Students also commented that they hoped the chief would be approachable and not quick to resort to using force. ASUCD President Alex Lee commented that he liked that Carmichael was tolerant of student parties on weekends and instead focused on student safety.

The student town hall adjourned at 6 p.m.

 

Written by: Lindsay Floyd  – campus@theaggie.org