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To Press Charges, or Not to Press Charges: That is the Question



A couple of nights ago I was watching the movie “Spider-Man 2” with my son in my lap. It’s one of those relaxing moments that define your purpose in life. Some of you who have kids will know that moment. Others may recognize it as a single moment, sitting on a board waiting for the perfect wave with everything in sync, from the dolphins nearby to the sounds of the seagull overhead. Then you catch that perfect wave, and as you ride, the face of it just washes over you. This is what life is about.

Hopefully we all have those epiphany moments. As I was having mine holding my son, he looked up at me and pointed at the police cars being hurled across the screen by Dr. Octopus. He told me, “That is why I don’t like you going to work every day.” I had to pause and really appreciate that moment before I went on to explain that although Isla Vista can be a bit crazy at times, we don’t have very many visits from Doc Ock or the Green Goblin. Maybe once a year in late October they might show up for a day or two, but for the most part our villains don’t have fancy costumes or an extra set of rhino horns. The villains we have look just like you and me. In fact, sometimes they are you and me …

My bike was stolen, and the cop asked if I wanted to press charges against the person responsible. What does that involve? I don’t want to get a student in trouble.

Bike theft is the most common crime we have at UCSB and in Isla Vista. Unfortunately it has been regarded by many to be just a way of life here. I often hear people say it’s not a big deal, it’s just a bike and you should expect to have one stolen while you live here. I myself think that’s a pretty sad way of thinking. An Xbox 360 costs less money than most bikes. It’s just a gadget, admittedly a cool one, but a bike is transportation to and from school or work. Some need it to survive day to day and the loss of their bike is devastating. Yet, if I just walked off with your Xbox, it would be horrible crime, akin to committing genocide on baby harp seals. Frankly, stealing is stealing and a thief is a thief.

But I digress. When we take a report for a stolen bike, the value is usually under $1000, and if so, it is considered a misdemeanor. If you don’t want to press charges for theft, it makes it difficult for us to go after the bike thief and further investigate if they have stolen other bikes and get them back to the owner. Basically it could mean that we catch someone stealing your bike and if you don’t want to press charges, we might just dust them off and send them on their way to take someone else’s bike. It can be frustrating to us to catch someone who is making a living off stealing from others and not be able to do anything about it because the bike owner is concerned about being too harsh on another student.

Oh and what does it involve to press charges? Well, you have to say you are willing to press charges, and if it did go to court, you would have to be willing to say that the bike is yours and you never gave permission to that guy with those four extra mechanical arms to take it. That’s all.

Do cops write more tickets at the end of the month to fill a last-minute quota and get a good evaluation from their supervisor?

You seem to misunderstand the goals here. If I write 10 tickets, I get a toaster. Fifty tickets and I get a stuffed Stewie Griffin doll. Seriously though, quotas are illegal per California Vehicle Code Section 41602. “No agency shall set an arrest quota.” Now does it happen? Sadly some bad supervisors begin pushing numbers instead of effective enforcement, and next thing you know there’s an unwritten quota. Ironically, if you Google “California traffic quotas illegal,” you’ll see more articles about cops suing their departments over quotas than what the law actually says.

So, to answer your question, quotas are illegal. It can happen, but rarely; cops don’t even like quotas, and Stewie Griffin dolls are way overvalued. (Yeah, that’s right, Magic Mountain. I’m talking about you … )

That’s all for now. It’s time for me to pop in “Iron Man” and try to recapture some of that magic time with my kids. I’ll be sure to ignore my wife on the couch swooning over Robert Downey Jr. So for now, take care, stay safe and if you run into any problems, take a moment and Question Authority. I am here (insert double chest thump) for you!

Sgt. Mark Signa is an officer of the UCSB Police Dept.

Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! Email me anytime at: QA@police.ucsb.edu or call UCSB PD at 893-3446.

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One Response to To Press Charges, or Not to Press Charges: That is the Question

  1. jacob Reply

    June 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    my bike just got stolen today at tacobell and they caught the 2 guys whi stole my freinds and my bike and i dont know if i should press charges they also got tazed too

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