Pepper Spray But One Problem at UC Davis

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I guess I’m glad that Lt. John Pike (Pepper Spraying Cop) has been terminated. But as with all such things (e.g. Abu Ghraib), it seems that Pike was a scapegoat. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t have been fired—just that his firing will be used to avoid making structural reforms that are at the core of the problem.

I have little doubt that any member of the DC Davis police force would have done what Pike did, if they had been there with the spray can. So the next time a similar situation arises, another officer will be there to place duty to his comrades above his duty to society. (There won’t be another “pepper spray at close range” incident, because they’ve all learned that lesson.)

One bit of data from the article really stood out. Pike’s salary last year was $110,243.12. This is much more than the vast majority of college professors make. Policing is not a hard job. And as I’ve discussed before, it is not a particularly dangerous job. But policing on a college campus? And on the UC Davis campus in particular? Please! Night manager at a suburban Motel-6 is far harder and more dangerous.

Yet the University of California thinks it makes sense to pay their police officers more than they pay their college professors, the people who provide the product they are selling. And those over-paid police officers think that spraying (Pouring?) pepper solution into the eyes of nonviolent student protesters—At close range!—is a good idea.

There are major problems at UC Davis (and by extension pretty much everywhere else). Firing Lr. John Pike doesn’t even begin to address them.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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