Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting students at the residence halls and dining commons and it has been a great reminder as to what my job is all about. Yeah, it’s fun being a rootin’-tootin’ gunslinger going all Wyatt Earp on the bad guys, but it’s reality-check time. My job is really about being there for those who need help, whether it’s something as simple as pointing a lost driver in, what you hope is, the right direction, taking care of someone hurt in a bike or car accident or being there for a crime victim who has lost something precious to them. Sure, getting the bad guy gives us a great feeling, but sometimes the “bad” guy also just needs to be pointed in the right direction.
So can the cops just walk into my dorm room without permission?
Generally, no. We can’t, and don’t, walk into a dorm room without permission from the resident. Your room is your private domain and unless we either have a search warrant, your permission or “exigent circumstances,” we can’t go in. Now you’re probably wondering, “What the hell are exigent circumstances? Isn’t that some movie on the Sci Fi channel starring Dean Cain as the angry and disgruntled Marine, but with a heart of gold, who is fighting to stop the spread of men dressed up in rubber lizard suits from wiping out the human race with the help of the sexy [insert washed up soap star name here] scientist who has discovered that it was really a plot by the evil government scientist to get rich quick by replacing Col. Sanders’ 8-piece chicken with deep fried lizard legs, but the experiment went horribly awry?” Well, yes, but let’s stick to the legal definition.
Exigent circumstances means that if an officer establishes that there is an immediate emergency and needs to gain access to the residence, house, apartment or dorm room, he may do so in order to deal with the emergency. The emergency can be a hazard, such as a fire or other life threatening situation, or a fresh pursuit, when the officer can follow someone he is chasing if the person runs into an apartment. Also, if the officer sees a crime being committed and there is not enough time to get a warrant before the evidence is destroyed or before the suspects may escape, he may enter to seize the evidence or contact the suspects. Especially if they are the rubber suited lizard men. It’s all about saving the world, you know….
I got stopped by the cops for an open container ticket and they demanded to see my ID. I think the ticket is bogus, so what if I didn’t show them my ID?
The only thing you can accomplish by not showing your ID is making a bad situation worse. If the officers have you detained for a criminal violation, like a beer ticket, they have the right to identify you. If you choose not to identify yourself, the standard procedure is to book you into the jail until your identity can be verified. Either electronic database or fingerprinting may be used to verify your ID.
I understand the idea of going against the authority and not making it easy for us. No problem, I can deal with that. But when you’re in a cold jail cell with 15 drunken newfound best friends showing how the new stains on their shirts look like various characters from the Cartoon Network, I don’t think you’ve really succeeded in “sticking it to the man.” It seems to me that the man might have just stuck it to you. If you want to contest your ticket, go to court. That’s what court is there for. It’s a chance for you to tell your side of what happened.
So Halloween is inching closer and closer. Be careful and watch out for each other. There are a lot of local student and community groups working at trying to make this the safest Halloween possible. Take advantage of your chance to meet various representatives and ask them questions about the upcoming Halloween weekend at the Isla Vista Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at Embarcadero Hall (935 Embarcadero Del Norte). There will be pizza for everyone at 6:30 p.m. Sorry, no deep-fried lizard legs this time, but if we get enough requests, maybe next time….
Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked off by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, question authority! E-mail me anytime at: QA@police.ucsb.edu or call me at the Crime Prevention Office: 893-4063.