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New UCD Police Chief Working To Change Image, Department

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DAVIS (CBS13) – Chief Matt Carmichael not only wants to turn UC Davis police around, he wants the department to become an example, for campus policing.

“UCD is the leader in many, many parts of the world, and for UC Davis police it only seems right that we also lead in the law enforcement world,” said Carmichael.

Before they can emerge as law enforcement leaders, UC Davis police officers have to repair their tainted image that was damaged by a decision to clear campus protestors with pepper spray. The video of officers spraying seated students in the face went viral, making headlines around the world.

A lieutenant at the time, Carmichael was patrolling the med center in Sacramento when his fellow officers responded to the protest on the Davis campus. But he says he reviewed every detail of the indecent, when he took over as the new chief.

Working 15 hour days, Carmichael struggles to balance his new role with life at home with his wife and four children. But he’s determined to take action on a series of reports criticizing the department’s training and capabilities. Carmichael also wants to take it a step further, initiating a review of his police force, from the Commission of Peace Officer standards and training.

“Who better to come in, and do a top to bottom, bottom to top review of police department management, police department practice, training needs,” said Carmichael.

The key reform Carmichael says is communication. The department now reports directly to the chancellor’s office before police take action on campus. He’s also trying to increase interaction with the community they serve and protect, UC Davis students. Carmichael says he assumed most students would want to keep their distance from officers because of the incident. Instead, he says they want to see them even more. So he told his 50 officers to get out of the office and out of their cars to ride bikes or walk around campus, getting to know students.

“I see my officers smiling, I see students smiling,” said Carmichael. “It’s a great interaction for officers just to get out of the car.”

Students CBS13 talked to say they would welcome more positive interaction with campus cops, but they’re still waiting to see it.

“If they’re saying that they’re out talking to us, I haven’t seen it,” said junior Amy Fisher. “But maybe they are?”

Carmichael accepted the position for a one year term. When CBS13 asked if he’ll apply for the permanent position, he says he doesn’t know.

Right now he’s focused on the changes he needs to make.

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