U of Maryland Criticizes Its Use of Pepper Spray

July 15, 2016

A study by the police department at the University of Maryland at College Park has faulted one use of pepper spray at a student party in May, defended another use of pepper spray and suggested that the university police might have avoided the use of pepper spray completely. Authorities were called to break up a graduation party largely attended by black students. While the specific incidents at the party may have justified the use of pepper spray, the report said that a larger issue is whether it was necessary. "Throughout the May 21 incident, we should have handled the situation with more diplomacy. It is my opinion that the subsequent deployment of pepper spray could have been avoided. This did not have to happen," said the report, by David B. Mitchell, director of public safety and chief of police.

A further complication is that the police responded to a report of a fight -- and that report turned out to be false.

President Wallace D. Loh issued a statement praising the investigation and the report. "The men and women of UMPD are an integral and valued part of our campus community. They are dedicated guardians, sworn to serve and protect. All of us respect and appreciate the difficult work they do, the sacrifices they make in the line of duty," he said. "We owe them our support. In turn, they recognize that community policing, not confrontational policing, is essential to building trust between the police and the policed."

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