Marcellis assigned to be in “plainclothes”

The UCPD’s plan for the February 23rd protest included three plainclothes officers, two of whom were assigned to videotape the event.

By Madhu Srikantha

The UCPD detective implicated as an undercover officer during a trauma center protest on February 23 was assigned to work as a plainclothes officer on that day, according to the Incident Command System (ICS) plan attained by the Maroon from an anonymous source. The plan, titled “Center for Care and Discovery Patient Move,” revealed that two other officers were assigned to the same role.

According to the ICS plan, which details each officers’ assignments for a specific event, the three plainclothes UCPD officers were in charge of gathering intelligence relevant to the transfer of patients from the old to the new hospital and “outside groups planning actions to interrupt.” They were also responsible for videotaping the event.

In an e-mail sent by Chief of Police Marlon Lynch to UCPD personnel on March 5, after Detective Marcellis’s undercover work was revealed, Lynch clarified what is meant by “plainclothes” versus “undercover.”

“We use ‘plainclothes’ assignments, not ‘undercover’ assignments. An example of a ‘plainclothes’ assignment is a police officer in ordinary clothes…observing and announcing their office if they need to utilize their authority as a police officer. An example of an ‘undercover’ assignment is intentionally concealing your identity or attempting to gain trust to obtain information or evidence,” stated the e-mail, which was forwarded to the Maroon by an anonymous former UCPD officer.

In a statement sent to the Maroon last week, Lynch said that the event plan did not involve an officer actively participating in the protest.

A second statement sent this week clarified what he meant. “Some UCPD officers work in ordinary clothes as opposed to a uniform, and plainclothes officers are routinely assigned to major events, including the opening of the Center for Care and Discovery. That is different than the behavior I identified in my statement last week. I did not approve an officer posing as a protester, which would fall under the category of undercover policing,” the statement said.

Lynch’s initial statement did not include that Marcellis was assigned to act as a plainclothes officer and did not address the use of video recording by UCPD officers. Demonstrators were not informed that UCPD planned to videotape the event.

In the second statement, Lynch explained why UCPD videotapes certain events.

“The UCPD periodically videotapes parts of high-profile events; examples include convocation or visits from prominent public figures. The intent is to have the ability to document actions by police and people attending the event, especially in the event of a disruption. This is in addition to fixed security cameras, and serves many of the same purposes.”

According to the ICS plan, the command post, located at UCPD headquarters, was staffed by Incident Commander, Assistant Chief of Police Gloria Graham; Logistics Section Chief, Interim Deputy Chief Kevin Booker; Video Coordinator, Commander Celeste D’ Addabbo; and the Operations Section Chief, Deputy Chief Eric Heath.

Other operations personnel were required to relay information back to command staff.

“Group supervisors will be out in the field reporting information back to the command post,” the plan stated. Those group supervisors were Interim Group Supervisor, Commander Michael Kwiatkowski; Quick Response Team Group Supervisor, Commander Tom Phillips; and Exterior and Intelligence Post Group Supervisor, Deputy Chief Milton Owens. The photographs published by the Maroon indicate that Marcellis texted Owens during the demonstration.

The internal review process, which was mentioned by Lynch in his first statement to the Maroon, involves a primary investigation of the behavior or policy at contention in the filed complaint. The investigation is traditionally conducted by Deputy Chief Heath.

Findings of the investigation can conclude that the allegations were either unfounded and inaccurate, exonerated and found justified in the situation, sustained and found accurate and the actions unjust, or not sustained. The investigation may not occur if the complainant does not sign an affidavit for the investigation to occur, or if the complainant does not comply with the investigation in a different regard.

A review of that initial investigation is then done by the Independent Review Committee (IRC), which either confirms the findings of UCPD or disagrees with them. The IRC only has an advisory role, and cannot mandate UCPD to change its findings. The IRC consists of three faculty members, three students, two staff members, and three community members.

The external, independent review process, according to University spokesperson Jeremy Manier, “is being put in place. We hope to have more information this week.”