Hello, UCSB! To all of the returning students: glad you’re back! To all you freshmen and transfer students: looking forward to meeting you! My finest, “How do you do,” to the students who never left this summer! And a huge “Gosh-darn it’s nice to see ya,’” to all of the faculty and staff!
For those of you who don’t know me, let me introduce myself: I’m Sergeant Mark Signa, and I have been a police officer (a.k.a. a “copper,” “Johnny Law,” or on a cold day, a “pig in a blanket”) for over 20 years here at UCSB and in Isla Vista. I also grew up in the area and spent plenty of time in Isla Vista prior to becoming a cop. This gave me the unique perspective of experiencing Isla Vista as a young partygoer, and later on, as a young cop.
Even with all of the issues and problems we face as a community, I still love IV, and I really want to do my part to make it a better place. My way of helping is by reaching out to the community and offering some advice to those who have questions about the laws, rules, processes and issues dealing with law enforcement in our area. As it has been pointed out, I am a cop, and so I am giving a cop’s perspective. I will be as honest and forthright as I can, but I’ll admit it — being a cop, I have my biases. So this column is not meant to be the end-all, be-all of solutions and answers, but merely another convenient source for those with questions or concerns.
To get the year started, I will start with my yearly starting tips of “Do’s and Don’ts” while out on the town in Isla Vista. In the upcoming articles, I will begin answering the questions I have fielded from you, the IV community, over the past year:
DON’T: Walk by yourself if you’ve been drinking, especially if the phrase, “I’m fine…” is pronounced with several s’s, th’s and some spittle. An intoxicated person who is walking by themselves is much more likely to be arrested for public intoxication than they are if they’re with a sober person who we trust to get them home safely.
DO: Walk with your cup (red Solo or otherwise) upside down while on Del Playa. No, it’s not a law, but it will save you from having the cops shine their lights on you to check whether it’s empty or not.
DON’T: Give a cop a false name. We have these things called “walkie-talkies” and these computer thingies too, so no matter how dumb you think a cop may be, know that the computers will let us know that “Heesa Dumpf Kopf” is not really your name. And as I said before, that walk home from jail is a long one.
DO: Walk if you’ve been drinking. Stay off of bikes, and definitely don’t drive! Everything in Isla Vista is within walking distance. The hospital and jail, on the other hand, are quite far away.
DON’T: Ditch your friends. Most of the victims we deal with are walking by themselves when they become the random victims of drunken idiots trying to cause problems. Stay with your friends, and if someone is drunk, get them home. It’s very frustrating for us to find out that people who have been hurt, or even killed, were drunk and alone, away from the friends who could have watched out for them. Take care of each other, guys.
DO: Lock your doors! Whether in a residence hall, apartment or house, lock the freaking doors! I know it’s a pain with 14 of you sharing that two-bedroom hovel, but get 14 keys. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing the laptop that gets stolen when the burglar goes out checking for open apartments on party nights. The number of stolen laptops in Isla Vista is crazy, so before you leave that door open, just imagine losing yours, complete with your only digital copy of Nickelback’s “Greatest Hits” … oh, and the 30-page bio-chem paper that’s due the next morning, too.
DON’T: Hesitate to ask questions. That’s the only way you learn. Ask lots of them to different people. You’ll get different answers, but it gives you the chance to see varying perspectives and to decide for yourself what you believe. If you find yourself in a bad situation involving a ticket or an arrest, or if you’re a victim of a theft, or even if you saw something you just don’t think is right, ask me — take a moment to “question authority.” I will do my best to answer your questions, or to point you towards the numerous resources in our community that will help answer them for you. And again, you don’t have to just take what I say alone — ask professors, friends, lawyers, and even the drunk guy at the keg with his fly unzipped and a suspiciously vomit-like substance on his chin. I would hope my advice is better than his, but it’s up to you to decide.
So have a great year in this great community! Enjoy it, but be safe and take care of yourselves and each other. See you in two weeks with the ultimate Halloween Guide from “Question Authority!” And now, in the immortal words of the guy in the car behind me at the green light, “You can go!!”
Sgt. Mark Signa was totally paying attention at that light, not rocking out to Nickelback’s “Greatest Hits.”