Although many UCSB students left campus during the summer, the University of California Police Dept. remained active and responded to a total of 559 incidents from June until September.
While most calls involved minor offenses such as possession of marijuana or illegal camping by transients, the past summer also saw a few major crimes, including a DUI-related fatality and the apprehension of a man wanted in connection with a murder in Los Angeles County.
On Sept. 13 at 9:58 p.m., 25-year-old Goleta resident Justin Sharp died from injuries he sustained at the East Gate entrance on Highway 217 after an allegedly drunk driver made an illegal U-turn in front of his motorcycle. Officers responding to the scene arrested the suspect.
According to UCPD Public Information Officer Matt Bowman, such incidents are rare for the campus.
“Overall it was a quiet summer,” Bowman said. “We don’t normally have homicide suspects and fatal crashes. It’s been about 20 years since we had an accident on the property.”
Additionally, UCPD made a rare arrest when Cpl. Dan Wilson apprehended Los Angeles Police Dept. murder suspect Justin Thalheimer on Sept. 6. According to Bowman, UCPD had received a tip that Thalheimer was in the area and sent officers to locate him. Wilson approached the suspect, who was camped out in a tent at Campus Point.
After giving the officer a fake name, Thalheimer attempted to escape, running about 15 feet before Wilson tackled and subdued the man, who was wanted in connection with the brutal stabbing of a 33-year-old Northridge transient.
“[The suspect] was held at the [Isla Vista] Foot Patrol station,” Bowman said. “LAPD officers retrieved him that morning.”
Officers dealt with less serious crimes as well. On Sept. 14 at 10:40 p.m., UCPD officers responded to a complaint in South Hall. Upon arrival, officers arrested Frank Besig, a 50-year-old man who had allegedly been living in a university cubicle illegally.
According to UCPD, Besig may have allegedly taken residence in South Hall for several months as officers discovered a large quantity of personal belongings he had stored inside his impromptu apartment.
According to Bowman, officers have contacted Besig before.
“A year and a half ago [Besig] was doing the same thing,” Bowman said. “He just changed locations. The university is completely against this. We are set up to house people, but that’s the housing dept.”
Bowman said UCPD handles about two such incidents annually. In response to Besig, UCPD is now working with residents of the building to prevent future incidents.
With the onset of the school year, Bowman said the department will now focus on bike and skateboard law enforcement.
“This year the chief has decided that he would like to see increased enforcement in skateboard violations,” Bowman said. “Specifically skateboards on bike paths. It’s beautiful, fresh-laid asphalt, but it’s unsafe because they’re designated for bikes only.”
According to Bowman, violators are subject to a $125 fine or may attend a bike and skateboard safety class for $35 in lieu of the ticket. Last spring, skateboarding became a controversial topic on campus after organizations and departments such as Student Health expressed concerns over skateboard-related injuries. The university temporarily considered a skateboarding ban, but then settled for holding a forum in which boarders and other members of the community could discuss their issues and possible solutions. The forum eventually concluded that more research was necessary before making any further decisions.