Welcome back! There’s been a bunch of good questions coming in, so I won’t go on with my incessant yammering. You know the kind where the guy keeps going on and on about nothing with no real purpose and it’s just… Sorry.

I sometimes see a fight at one party but the police are too busy giving someone an MIP (Minor in Possession of Alcohol citation) down the street to notice. Do the police have a priority system on how they deal with public safety?

Absolutely. We deal with all calls for service or on view tickets or anything else we deal with on a priority basis. No matter what we are doing, the health and safety of the individual must come first. In the case of a beer ticket versus a fight, we forget the ticket and go to the fight because the potential of someone getting hurt is greater at the fight than with the ticket. That’s an easy call to make.

The tougher call is if there is a fight and the officer is dealing with an intoxicated person. An officer must decide between the safety of the people at the fight and the safety of the intoxicated person. If the intoxicated person is to the point where he or she could get hurt trying to get home, the officer’s responsibility is to stay with them.

It’s not uncommon that we are a house or two away from a fight and don’t even know about it until it’s over. Unless we come across the fight during the patrol, we rely on the public to let us know by telling us or calling 9-1-1. Even if the fight’s over, it’s good for us to know about it so we can keep an eye on the area to keep it calm. A bad fight can ruin a good party.

When should I call 9-1-1? I thought I heard something, but did not want to call 9-1-1 for nothing. I wasn’t sure if it was an emergency.

When you call 9-1-1 – or 9-9-1-1 from an on-campus line – you will reach the emergency dispatch center, which handles emergencies but not general calls for service. However, if you are not sure if it’s an emergency, error on the side of caution and call 9-1-1. By emergency, I mean when somebody is in danger or a crime is occurring right now.

The big question is usually should you call for a loud party disturbing you at 2 a.m. Even during Dead Week, those are really non-emergency calls. That’s not to say don’t call, just don’t call on the emergency lines. For non-emergencies call 681-4100 for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. or 893-3446 for the UCSB Police Dept.

You should also be aware that when you call 9-1-1 on your cell phone, the call goes to the CHP Ventura Dispatch Center. They will transfer the call to whichever agency can handle the emergency the best. However, be very clear with saying where you are calling from – Isla Vista or Goleta or UCSB. The CHP covers a lot of territory with a lot of similar streets, although I truly believe there can only be one Del Playa Drive.

Is a plate of JELL-O shots covered in Saran Wrap an open container?

As good as they may taste it still smells like booze. Sorry. Once the alcohol is out of the “factory sealed” container – the original unopened bottle, can or keg – it is considered open. JELL-O does not make a good sealant.

Take care and be safe!

To ask UCPD Crime Prevention Officer Mark Signa a question, email him at .