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Opinion >> Question Authority
Pride can be an amazing thing. Many of us have pride in our country, pride in our children or parents, pride in the high score at Donkey Kong. Frankly, there are a lot of things to be proud of. I look back at my life and I have to ask myself: Am I proud of the things I’ve said and done? Well, mostly …
Sometimes pride takes over, and it morphs from a shining part of who we are into a dark mass of self-destruction, oozing from a hidden inner being of hateful spite. Soon it dominates all that is good in us and permeates every aspect of ourselves. Kind of like green M&M’s. Gross.
Okay, so perhaps I am being a bit extreme, but my point is that pride, while usually a good thing, has a habit of intervening in our decisions at just the wrong moment. Decisions that should involve little more than common sense soon become confused with the desire to not give any ground to anyone or anything that dares to cross us. Disagreements no longer become a matter of right or wrong, but rather an insistence of “I cannot be wrong!” For those of us who are married, this is not an unusual situation. Recently, I was arguing with my wife over whether it was okay for my kids to watch cartoons. Refusing to give any ground, I justified that the kids were learning the value of the proper use of explosives and hammers when utilized by a cat and mouse. Pride clearly blinded me to the ridiculousness of my argument. If I had taken a step back and not been such a self-important fool, I would have recognized my lack of judgment and, instead, would have been able see the truth. Everyone knows that Tom and Jerry are merely a representation of the Israeli and Palestinian dispute over the West Bank …
I was given a bike ticket that I think is ridiculous. I didn’t want to sign it, but I did. What would have happened if I did not sign it?
Officers write tickets based on their observations. From their viewpoint, they saw a violation committed and responded by issuing a ticket. Often, however, from the driver’s or rider’s viewpoint, they did not commit a violation and the officer is totally wrong. This is where the impasse begins.
Cops tend to have strong personalities, and we really believe in what we see and do. Not that I am always right, as my wife so dutifully points out regularly, but when I write a ticket, I do so believing the violation did in fact occur.
The problem here is a matter of viewpoint then. The rider or driver does not want to sign the ticket because they think it is an admission to a crime they did not commit. However, signing a ticket is merely the person agreeing that they will take care of it later in court, not admission of any wrongdoing. When you refuse to agree to take care of the ticket, the law says that you are invoking your right to take the issue before the court immediately. Sounds cool, eh? Except that it means you could be arrested and taken to jail until the next available court date. Not so cool … eh?
40302 of the California Vehicle Code is called the “must take” section. It lists certain times an officer must make an arrest, and one of them is when a person refuses to sign the ticket. So, even if you think the ticket is a load of droppings, you still have to sign it, or you will end up going to jail for at least the night. Pride can be a bit of a pain sometimes. And unless your name is verifiably “F— You,” your choice of words will count as not signing the ticket.
Do officers check the legal status of people they contact? In other words, if someone is not a U.S. citizen, do they arrest them?
There is a lot of controversy and debate around the idea of police officers checking for legal status of immigrants. People have expressed concerns that we should not check the status, but ultimately it is an issue for the federal government, not the local. I am not taking sides here, but I am clarifying that we don’t check the status. In over 20 years as a cop, I have arrested lots of people, and whether they are in the U.S. as a legal citizen has never been an issue for my purposes.
However, the issue gets a bit more complicated when someone is arrested. The standard identification procedures at the jail involve properly identifying the person — who may then be discovered to be an illegal, or undocumented, immigrant — at which point Immigration and Customs Enforcement is notified. Then, it is up to ICE to decide if they are going to follow up with the immigration status issue. It is possible that if an officer is aware of the status of a person, they may notify ICE, but we do not detain or arrest for that here.
It’s hard to believe graduation is so near. Looking back at the past year of “Question Authority,” I have a lot of pride in … Err. … It’s been nice. I hope you all are gearing up for summer and the future! Whether here or there or anywhere, if you have a question, please don’t hesitate to Question Authority! I am proud to be here for you …
Sgt. Mark Signa picks out the green M&M’s and feeds them to the cats.
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! E-mail me anytime at: QA@police.ucsb.edu or call UCSB PD at (805) 893-3446.
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