In response to past Halloweens, including last year’s festivities, which saw 333 people arrested, local lawyers and police deputies will give UCSB students and Isla Vistans a quick legal tutorial this week regarding police encounters.
The event will feature Associated Students Legal Resource Center lawyers Robin Unander and David Andreason, I.V. Foot Patrol Deputy Miles Davies and local lawyer William C. Makler. The event, co-hosted by the Legal Resource Center and A.S., will take place on Wednesday in Embarcadero Hall at 7 p.m.
Andreason said that many students do not know their rights or their legal boundaries and, consequently, find themselves in trouble. He said students are often intimidated by police officers, needlessly implicating themselves during interrogations.
“We want to make sure students are armed with the knowledge of what their rights are and what their responsibilities are,” Andreason said.
The session will address issues such as police searches and will clarify the definition of common I.V. crimes such as drunk in public and minor in possession citations, he said.
“We’ll be going over some myths about what is and what isn’t [and] what are and what aren’t crimes,” Andreason said.
Davies said local law enforcement officers hope to give partygoers safety advice for the Halloween week.
“We want to educate folks on what it’s like out here on Halloween,” he said. “With that information, they will have a safe and responsible night.”
In 2004, the Legal Resource Center and A.S. Student Lobby held a similar workshop in response to the police department’s new “fall offensive,” which increased the Santa Barbara Police Dept.’s number of citations and enforcement officers during the Halloween week. Unander said students often contribute to their own conviction because they do not understand their rights.
“We noticed that if our students were career criminals, they would have had enough contact with the police to understand their rights and to understand that certain conduct on their part will make things worse,” Unander said. “But because our students don’t have that experience, they do things to make their situation worse, like questioning police officers in an accusatory way.”
Unander said the 2004 workshop drew over 100 students and residents eager to learn what they could and could not do during a police encounter.
Although A.S. and the IVFP already held a town hall meeting on Oct. 11 addressing how students should conduct themselves during Halloween, Unander said this Wednesday’s community session will focus on how to handle police encounters.
“This [community session] focus is more on advising students how to have safe fun, but anticipating that things happen,” Unander said.
The Legal Resource Center lawyer also said this week’s event gives students the opportunity to ask both defense attorneys and police officers legal questions in a setting that is not intimidating.
“It was important for us to include an officer who had a good rapport with students and who was comfortable answering questions in a candid setting,” Unander said.
Makler, who has also served as a Community Service Officer at UC San Diego and has worked for the San Diego Police Dept., said he has seen many youths receive criminal records that they could have avoided if they had approached a police encounter knowing both the entire situation and their civil rights.
“You shouldn’t rush to judge police or assume you know everything about police procedures or the facts at hand,” Makler said. “You must give the police room to do their job and the benefit of the doubt.”
At the same time, Makler said he believes in police accountability.
“Police make mistakes and are wrong, but the place to address that is in court, not on the field,” Makler said.
A question-and-answer session will follow Wednesday’s presentations.