Isla Vista residents accustomed to answering to the police will get a chance to ask some questions of their own at tonight’s town hall meeting.
In conjunction with the Associated Students Commission on Public Safety (COPS), the I.V. Foot Patrol will be hosting a two-hour law enforcement town hall meeting in Embarcadero Hall beginning at 7 tonight. All members of the community are invited to attend the meeting, where they will be able to meet with and ask questions of officers from several branches of local law enforcement, including the IVFP, California Highway Patrol, UC Police Dept. and City of Santa Barbara Police Dept.
IVFP Lt. Sol Linver, the organizer of the event, said the meeting’s goal is to promote communication between students in I.V. and law enforcement officers.
“The goal is [open] communication with the community, the community being 60 percent students,” Linver said.
Linver said he will moderate the first portion of the meeting, which will consist of an informal discussion by a panel of officers from the different branches of local law enforcement. Linver said the discussion will largely focus on general information regarding personal safety, burglary prevention, alcohol laws and other pressing local issues.
“Some of it is education as far as alcohol laws – what’s enforced, how it’s enforced,” Linver said.
The second part of the meeting will be a question-and-answer period, during which members of the community can bring up any concerns they have pertaining to police matters, whether general or specific, Linver said.
“If someone brings up a personal issue, we’ll talk to them after,” he said. “This is a more general than specific discussion.”
Linver said the idea for the town hall meeting was based on the success of past events COPS has organized – most notably, the Oct. 25, 2004, meeting that addressed Halloween regulations. Linver said another meeting addressed the community’s response to the death of Bradley Jones, a 19-year-old Santa Barbara City College student who died last March.
“We had 60 to 80 people show up for Halloween,” Linver said. “With the Bradley Jones case, we had several hundred.” Kristen Ditlevsen, A.S. representative-at-large and Legislative Council liaison to COPS, said COPS is organizing the meeting in an attempt to increase communication between students and local police.
“Our goal is really just to have cops and students talk about the issues,” Ditlevsen said. “We’re not on anybody’s side. We’re just facilitating the discussion.”
Linver said the IVFP plans to host similar town hall meetings once each quarter. Since April is Sexual Awareness Month, Linver said he plans to focus the next meeting on personal safety.
“The first [meeting will be] the tip of the iceberg and will cover various topics,” he said. “We hope to build it quarter after quarter.”
Linver said he was not sure how many people would attend tonight’s meeting but that Embarcadero Hall holds 120 people.
Ditlevsen said COPS has done a great job in the past of facilitating community involvement and will continue to work with the IVFP in future town hall meetings to ensure that both student and law enforcement concerns are heard.
“In the discussions we’ve had, for it to work, there needs to be student involvement,” Ditlevsen said.