Students finally got their chance to interrogate police officers at the Associated Students Commission on Public Safety (C.O.P.S) town hall meeting Tuesday.
C.O.P.S. held a forum at 7 p.m. in Embarcadero Hall, where students and community members grilled a panel including law enforcement officers and representatives from the university’s Office of Student Life. About 30 Isla Vista residents showed up to discuss topics ranging from UCSB’s parental notification and extended jurisdiction policies to the new Isla Vista Foot Patrol undercover officers.
Law enforcement officers stated clearly their intent to have a good relationship with the community.
“Our goal is not to stifle what college students will try to do, but to make it safe for as many people as possible,” IVFP Lt. Tom McKinny said.
The panel said much crime in I.V. results from the extensive abuse of alcohol and the dangerous situations this abuse creates.
“Almost everything crime-related that goes on in I.V. is because of alcohol abuse,” McKinny said. “There seems to be more violence than there used to be. That’s one of my goals: to try and reduce the number of assaults.”
University officials also expressed concern with excessive rates of alcohol consumption in I.V.
“Fifty-four percent of our students report binge drinking within the last two weeks,” Associate Dean of Students Debbie Fleming said.
Among the most prevalent concerns from the audience were questions about the undercover officers and their purpose. According to McKinny, they are primarily there to prevent violence.
“People get stabbed, slashed, bottles over the head; major injuries are not uncommon, and that’s not acceptable,” he said. “These undercover people are not looking to give beer tickets or bust parties or make drug busts. But they are sheriff’s officers. Their task is to look for people who want to hurt somebody.”
Another community member requested clarification on the university’s extended jurisdiction over crimes that students commit while in Isla Vista. Associate Dean of Students, Judicial Affairs Joe Navarro said hazing, assault and stalking were the crimes over which the university has jurisdiction. He added that, “Usually, the victim and the perpetrator must both be students.”
There were also concerns from audience members regarding the university’s parental notification policy, which informs parents whenever their son or daughter is arrested for a drug or alcohol related offense. Audience members asked university officials how decisions were made as to whether a letter would be sent. Fleming said that had its exceptions. Last fall students made three requests not to send parental notification letters home. Two of these requests were granted.
“All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis,” Fleming said.