Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve written my column. I’d love to say I was away doing great deeds and sacrificing myself toward the betterment of mankind. Unfortunately, too many people know me and would know I was full of it — it, of course, being Mai Tai’s, sunscreen, and sand between the toes. Let’s just say I was away studying the effects of crushed cnidarians and their impact on moisture evaporation and temperature variations on enclosed liquefied grain fermentations. You see, it’s not always about what you do, it’s usually about the way you say it that makes a difference. Enter segue into my first question…

Why did I get a speeding ticket even though my friend got pulled over the day before for going faster and only got a warning?

There could be a million reasons why this happens. The best way I can answer this for you is to talk about what is going through our heads when we stop someone for a traffic violation and why we may or may not give a ticket.

First of all, officers are given discretion on whether or not to write a ticket. Each and every traffic stop is different and the officer needs the flexibility to determine what the best course of action would be in order to prevent the violation or hazard from happening again. If the violation is pretty minor, there was no immediate hazard and the driver recognizes the mistake, the officer may feel that a warning is appropriate. For example, on a straight road with no other cars, in the middle of the afternoon, where the driver is going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone, the officer may feel the need to warn the person to slow down, but not give a ticket. On the other hand, if another driver is doing the same speed at sunset, with the sun in his eyes and lots of other cars on the road, and sweet little Cindy Lou Who (who is not more than two) was trying to cross the road, while holding her kitten in one hand and a flower in the other, the officer may not be so lenient. Those circumstances would warrant a ticket.

Also, just another suggestion — don’t lie. If you’re doing something and the officer catches you doing it, lying about it will pretty much guarantee the ticket is on its way. I’m not saying you should admit to doing something you didn’t do. When it’s obvious what happened and the driver tries the old Jedi mind trick on me — “this isn’t the speeding car you were looking for…” — my only response will be to write him or her the ticket. On the flip side, when the driver accepts responsibility for what he or she did, I am much more likely to be lenient and give a warning.

What can be done about the loose dogs running around campus?

As the weather gets warmer, students don’t want to leave their best friend at home alone. So they get brought onto campus. This, unfortunately, creates a bunch of problems. Any dog in public, including the beaches, must be on a leash (Santa Barbara County Ordinance 7-11). Even though Skippy is the happiest, friendliest, most sweet-natured pooch this side of El Colegio, he is invariably going to run into Snarf, the meanest, nastiest, sneakiest doggie west of the Pasado line. Before you know it, they’re barking and running around and everyone in the area, including people in classrooms, is complaining about the noise and interruptions.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your pet for a walk through campus. Dogs, cats, iguanas, snakes, rocks — they all need to get some exercise. If you do, just make sure Skippy and Snarf are kept on a leash and the leash is attached to you. It should be up to the passers-by to decide if they want to pet them and not up to Snarf to show everyone what it feels like to have a 200-pound lap dog!

Ticked off by a ticket? Party popped by the Patrol? If you got questions, don’t let it eat away at you. Ask them! Call or e-mail me anytime. Mark.Signa@police.ucsb.edu or the Crime Prevention Office at 893-4063.