While it is usually the police asking you questions – think sitting on a Del Playa Drive curb with a flashlight in your face – the Isla Vista Foot Patrol is turning the tables.
Police officers will take the stage at I.V. Theater II tonight at 7 to answer questions while taking their turn in the bright lights. IVFP Lt. Sol Linver said the meeting will be similar in structure to one held Jan. 31 and will offer information and suggestions to local residents regarding law enforcement policies. The event will also feature a session during which attendees can ask a panel of local law enforcement officers questions about legal proceedings, police treatment and any other concerns audience members might have.
Linver said the meeting will touch on many of the same issues as the meeting two months ago, which only a handful of community members attended. However, he said he anticipates a larger turnout this time as a result of advertising efforts by the Associated Students Committee on Public Safety (COPS), which is sponsoring the event.
“We’ll be talking mostly about alcohol-related offenses, burglary problems and solutions, and I want to educate people on parking laws,” Linver said. “Then we’re going to just start opening it up to questions.”
Representatives from several different branches of local law enforcement will be present at the meeting, Linver said, to provide information and answer questions pertaining to their specific areas of expertise.
“We will have deputies there, including a CHP officer and an officer from the UC Police Dept.,” Linver said. “There will also be an officer from [the City of] Santa Barbara [Police Dept.] to discuss issues relating to law enforcement downtown.”
Eva von Thury, chair of A.S. COPS and a senior environmental studies major, said her organization is cooperating with the IVFP to organize the law enforcement town hall meetings, which Linver said he hopes to hold quarterly from now on. She said future town hall meetings will be themed, with the Spring Quarter meeting to be centered on sexual awareness and possibly tied in with the Take Back the Night campaign.
Von Thury said she thinks the meetings are a good way to foster communication between I.V. residents and the IVFP.
“We wanted to create a better relationship between law enforcement and the community and encourage more dialogue,” von Thury said. “We want the community to respect law enforcement, and we want law enforcement to respect the community.”
Linver said he expects that the new ordinance that requires anyone drinking alcohol in I.V. parks to first purchase a permit – which he said will take effect March 1 – will be a major topic of discussion at the meeting.
“We have been going around talking to people in the parks and letting them know that as of March 1 we are going to be enforcing the permit ordinance,” Linver said. “The [IVRPD] has also requested that we start enforcing park hours, and we will be talking about that at the meeting.”
The relationship between I.V. residents and the IVFP could be much better than it is currently, von Thury said, if students and law enforcement officers took some time to try and understand each other’s points of view.
“If you’re scared of the foot patrol, or if you’re angry with them, you should show up and maybe you can get an idea of where they are coming from,” von Thury said. “I think it’s good to meet your local law enforcement officers, to put faces to them – they’re really not that scary.”
Von Thury said anyone who is curious about a particular law enforcement issue, or has a complaint about the way he or she has been treated by police, should go to the meeting. She said refreshments will be available as a further incentive for those who are considering attending.
“I’m hoping that at least 50 people show up,” von Thury said. “If you have a problem with what you’ve seen going on around town, or if you have a concern or a question, then you should come. Even if you don’t have a question, maybe you’ll think of one while you are eating a cookie.”