On the night of Friday, Sept. 24, I was arrested for giving false information to an Isla Vista Foot Patrol officer. My eyes were opened to the corrupt, inappropriate and unprofessional ways of the IVFP that night.
While my three roommates were dancing with friends and enjoying themselves toward the front of the house, I was in my bedroom with my boyfriend. I hadn’t seen him for three weeks, and he was visiting from Fullerton for the weekend. I woke up to a thud on my door, which I presumed was an inebriated roommate. “Karen!” they yelled piercingly, frantically pleading that I, the sober one, talk to the police officers who had interrupted their good time.
As I staggered to the living room in my pajamas, I was approached by a male officer who assumed I lived there due to my homely attire. He began talking to me and asking me questions about whether I knew that minors were being served alcohol. I pleaded ignorance but said I would take responsibility for the activities at my house. He asked for my first and last names and my date of birth. After he wrote my name, spelled incorrectly, into his notebook, I asked him if I could write it myself, because the hustle and bustle was making it difficult to spell aloud one letter at a time. He handed me the notepad, I tore out the top sheet with the misspelled name on it, and with this action he arrested me, claming that I had battered him by ripping a 3-by-5 page out of his notebook.
He cuffed me and sat me down on the curb, then hovered over me condescendingly. Instead of reading me my rights, which I assume had slipped his mind, he reassured me that my actions were by far “the stupidest and worst thing” he had ever seen. I compliantly sat in peace and let him finish his power trip, but I couldn’t help but wonder to myself if physical violence – i.e. punching or pulling a weapon or even talking back – wouldn’t be stupider or worse? Was this really the stupidest and worst thing he had ever seen? I ignorantly tore a piece of paper that I decided had irrelevant information on it. Perhaps he had just moved up to being a foot patrol officer from the local Santa Barbara preliminary school facilities – with all the ripping, pasting and coloring going on there, one would think he would be accustomed to my behavior.
As I, a single, compliant 19-year-old sober female with no intentions of being destructive, sat quietly on the curb, I looked up to a soccer team of police officers. Mind you, I later found out that while the police officers were waiting on the sidelines to star in the game, a good friend’s house three addresses down was robbed. It was a good call by the officers to radio in the extra substitutes for backup, just in case someone’s legs fell asleep while they hovered.
They placed me in the back seat of the cop car as the criminal that I was, shut the door and drove me away with “shame” written on my forehead with chalk. I would have to say the most disturbing thing was not the prospect of going to jail, but the car ride over; I was sitting next to a male freshman who told me “everything would be fine.” He slurred his words and described how he didn’t do anything except “piss all over the street” because he “had to go.” I calmly told him he was an idiot, and then we both kept to ourselves for the remainder of the ride.
The most disturbing part came not from the back seat, but the front. As the car sped up and slowed down, I overheard the two male officers in the front discussing which of the girls were the hottest. As we drove past one girl wearing a white halter top and a short black skirt with platforms, we slowed down almost to her walking pace. Then I heard the officer in the passenger seat say, “Wow, she is a good one, very hot.” From that moment on, my stomach felt uneasy, and all my presumptions about the Isla Vista Foot Patrol were unfortunately confirmed.
Just wanted to let others know.
Karen Merritt is a UCSB student.