It has been a controversial topic, especially as of lately, about the use of police force on protesters. The University of California at Davis experienced a controversial scene when police pepper sprayed the protesters of the occupy movement. The protesters were sitting on campus around their set up camp when police tried to break them up. The protesters refused to get up and leave. An estimated 30 to 50 cops showed up, and the students linked arms refusing to get up and leave. At this point the cops started to pepper spray the protesters who would not leave the scene. The scene was recorded on video by a few students on campus. The debate of this event comes into play when even after the protesters were pepper sprayed they would not leave the scene. Because they would not leave, the cops brutally cocked backed the heads of some protesters and sprayed right into their faces and eyes. Police officers used excessive force to arrest the protesters who would not comply and leave the scene. Chris Wong, a community development and Spanish major at the university quoted, "within five minutes of coming, they started yanking people out of the circle and arresting them. That created a spectacle”. The video went vial online and many people were outraged at the video. The duty of police officers is to keep society safe and protected, but the video of police pepper spraying the defenseless protesters made the community outcry in despair against the officer’s actions. The community and students felt collectively betrayed by the violation of the officers’ power over the protesters.
As a criminal justice major, I understand the police officers need to use force when it is necessary for the citizens to comply with the law. The police officers had a duty to disperse the protesters off campus, although they could have done it in a different way. The fact that the officers were arresting people after five minutes, according to a witness, implies to me that the officers could have tried to reason with the protesters more before using pepper spray. The video became a huge concern with the head of the police department and officials at the school when the armed police men were persistent in pepper staying the protesters who were completely defenseless. Although the protesters would not listen to the demands made by the police officers, they were not a threat to the safety of the officers. The extent of the drastic measures, which affected the protesters for several days after the incident, were inappropriate. It is clear that the situation was hectic, but the officers go through numerous strenuous training sessions in order to be prepared for an event like at the University of California at Davis. The officers are responsible to act ethically at all time on duty. The officers broke their ethical responsibilities to restrain the use of force unless deemed necessary. The officers used excessive force with the protesters, where force was not necessary. Police Chief Howard Jordan said he was listening to the community's concerns about clashes between protesters and police. Jordan quotes, “I am concerned about the injuries to protesters and officers alike. The decision to use any level of force is never taken lightly."