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UC Davis police chief quits after critical report on pepper-spraying

April 19, 2012 | 12:30 pm

Annette M. Spicuzza

UC Davis 'pepper spray incident' task report A week after a scathing investigative report criticized her leadership in the pepper spraying of student demonstrators last year, the UC Davis campus police chief has resigned, a university spokesman said Thursday.

  Annette M. Spicuzza, who has headed the UC Davis force since 2005, had been on paid administrative leave since soon after the Nov. 18 incident in which campus police pepper-sprayed student protesters at close range. She sent her resignation letter to the university Wednesday, said campus spokesman Barry Shiller.

Last week, a UC task force probing the controversial actions in the handling of the demonstrators blasted Spicuzza for running a "dysfunctional" department, and declared that 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.

UC Davis is planning to announce a successor later Thursday.

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.

Spicuzza has had a 27-year career in law enforcement. She came to UC Davis after serving as assistant police chief at the University of Washington. Before that, she worked in municipal departments in Washington state and Illinois.


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Photo: Annette M. Spicuzza in 2011. Credit: Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee