It’s hard to believe that summer’s over and the new school year has begun. We’ve made it past all of the summer blockbuster sequels involving ogre-ish acting, spies, pirating and die-hard spiders. Anyway, welcome back. Or for those of you new to UCSB, welcome.

I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. As a police officer at UCSB and in Isla Vista, I have always recognized that there has been a large communication gap between the students and law enforcement. Many of the frustrations felt by both were often a result of misunderstandings and miscommunications.

A few years ago I was standing outside the I.V. Foot Patrol office when a car parked in front of me. On the bumper was a sticker that read, “Question Authority.” As the young women exited her car, I asked her what her question was. I initially meant it just as a joke, but as she ran away screaming, “It wasn’t me!” This put the idea in my head that many people in the community did not really know where to go or how to ask questions of the police. As a result, how and what we do is learned from the movies and television. Frankly, just as not all students are truly represented by “Animal House,” not all cops are representative of “Reno 911!”.

In order to help bridge the gap, I came up with the idea of creating a “Question Authority” program. In addition to submitting an article with your questions about police stuff, we set up tables around campus where anyone can stop by for information or to ask questions and grab some free stuff. Who knows, ask a good question and get a free flashlight, ball cap or maybe ask a really good question and get a T-shirt! Well, okay, it might be a “Windows 98 Is the Future!” T-shirt and it might have a stain that I think is orange juice – did I mention the flashlight?

Anyway, my goal is to get the message out that if you have a question about a ticket or concern about a friend who was arrested or even a complaint about something you saw, please ask me. I will always respond back as honestly as I can. You may not agree, or you may just think I’m a moron – you won’t be the first – but at least you’ll have hopefully received some information that may explain why things happened the way they did or what to do about that ticket. Hopefully, it will help.

So to get us started, and in the spirit of summer re-runs, I will pull the first question of the year out of the old Q.A. ball cap:

“Is it really a law that we have to hold our cups upside down while walking around I.V.?”

No. It’s not a law or a rule that you must hold your cup upside down. However, it is recommended, especially while on Del Playa on a Friday or Saturday night. Although I am sure your red plastic cup has never seen anything harder than a lemon Fresca with an orange twist, some people have been known to use these cups for this foamy yellow stuff known in some places as beer.

But, seriously, in Santa Barbara it is against the law to have an open container of alcohol in public. This includes bottles, cans and the indigenous red plastic cup. If you carry the cup from the party into the street, you run the risk of getting a ticket from the cops. Since this is one of the most common tickets written in I.V., we are always looking at anyone carrying a cup. If the cup is upright, we will come up and ask you what you are drinking. If the cup is upside down, we won’t even give you a second glance. By holding the cup upside down, you’ve just succeeded in avoiding being noticed by the cops.

So good luck in your upcoming year at UCSB, SBCC and in I.V., as I hope it will be a positive and educational time for you. And remember, if you get a ticket or have a problem you need some answers to, don’t hesitate to “Question Authority!”

If you have questions, don’t let them eat away at you. E-mail me anytime at or call the UCSB Police Dept. at (805) 893-3446.