One of the best things about being a cop is knowing you did a good deed. Someone had a laptop stolen and it gets recovered and returned? Mmmm, good deed. Someone had a bike accident and we got them home okay? Mmmm, feeling good. Helping a little old lady across the street? Nice feelings!

[media-credit id=20122 align=”alignleft” width=”151″]Fuzzy[/media-credit]I wish I could say that’s all we did but we also have to do things that don’t instill such nice feelings. Last week, for example, I had to arrest a young lady for being drunk in public. In reality, this was a good deed (making sure someone who needed help was being taken care of) but it’s not a great feeling knowing that she was in for an unpleasant night. Sure, sometimes we get to arrest a violent drunk for smashing side view mirrors, but we often have to make a tough call on good people.

Q: I was arrested for being drunk and was less than a block from home.  I wasn’t hurting anyone and wasn’t acting up, so why couldn’t the officer just get me home instead?

A: Unfortunately the distance from your home doesn’t really change anything. An officer still has to make the same judgment call. We have to ask ourselves if you are intoxicated to the point you cannot take care of yourself, even after you get home. Once the officer makes contact with you, we have a responsibility to ensure you will be okay. This is why if you have sober friends with you, we are way more likely to have them get you home and keep an eye on you. If you are by yourself, or your friends are intoxicated, we can’t be sure.

Q: I had some friends over for a poker game and one of them said I could get arrested. Is having a home poker game considered illegal gambling?

A: If a home poker game was illegal, I would have to change the title of these articles to “Question Authority, but Help Pay My Bail First.” I love poker and have friends over all the time. Is poker illegal in California? No. It is strictly regulated, but these rules only apply to “controlled games,” generally casinos which run the game for profit. As long as the house does not profit from the game by charging a fee, taking a cut or rake or using any of the poker funds to pay for the event, then it’s a home game and not regulated. Oh, I’m getting the warm fuzzies again. Time to shuffle up and deal!

Q: I got a Minor in Possession ticket. Do I have to go to court or can I just pay the fine?

A: In Santa Barbara, if you get the dreaded MIP, you are required to show up in court for the first hearing. As frustrating as that is, it actually is a good thing for you. The court uses that opportunity to educate you about the court process and explain your options to you. After you learn about the process, you have the opportunity to plead either guilty or not guilty. Hopefully you will learn enough to make the best decision for your specific case and be able to consider all of your options.

That’s it for today’s article. As I sit here writing this, I am holding my daughter’s favorite bunny in my lap filled with that warm feeling of doing some good deed. Wait, that warm feeling is now in my lap and it’s wet and… good feelings gone.

Got caught by a cop?  Your party popped by the popo? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, question authority! E-mail me anytime at: or call UCPD at 893-3446.