Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Every time we turn around it seems there’s another decision to be made.  Most of them are pretty easy and really don’t have much impact on anything.  Should I get the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder?  Tough decision, but no matter which one you choose, you’re going to be fatter and feel like crap as soon as you’re done eating it.

[media-credit id=20177 align=”alignleft” width=”158″][/media-credit] Of course, there are far more important decisions out there to be made, and some very well may have a lasting effect on your life.  Should I major in physics with a focus on quantum mechanics or should I go for a degree in the Theater and Dance Dept.? The theater and dance degree probably won’t help with a job at NASA, and at the same time your in-depth knowledge of quantum theory will have no impact on your chance of landing the role of Elphaba in “Wicked.”

Usually with the big decisions, we have the time to sit down, talk it over with friends and family, do a little research and make the decision that seems best.  However, sometimes there are decisions that are made in a split second that can potentially impact the rest of your life.  Hopefully when those choices come up, you’ll make a positive one and not order the extra-large fries. In answering some of your questions, I want to enable you to reflect upon the decisions of your own peers and think about what you yourself may have done in a similar situation.

Q: I was arrested after a cop saw me with a beer and I tried to run.  The cop told me that this was a misdemeanor and could affect me when I apply for jobs. Is that true?

A: If you ran, you were arrested for resisting/delaying the police. What impact can that have on you?  It potentially can do a lot. The question I’m usually asked is if you have to list a beer ticket on applications.  A minor in possession of alcohol ticket is technically a misdemeanor, however, in Santa Barbara County it is filed in the court as an infraction.  So if the application asks, “Have you ever been arrested for a misdemeanor?” then you technically have and should therefore list it.  If the application asks, “Have you been convicted of a misdemeanor?” then technically you have not, since it was filed as an infraction. Now in regard to running from the cops, that one is a misdemeanor arrest that will be filed as a misdemeanor. So you will need to disclose it on your application. It also will show up if they do a background check and for some jobs that may be an automatic disqualifier. About a week ago I arrested a kid for running away who was scheduled to go into the military in the next couple of weeks.  Sadly, this was a major game changer for his future goals.
Now you may think I’m just trying to encourage people not to run because I’m getting old, fat and lazy.  Well, no, not a chance… wait, you think I look fat?   Bad cop, no more donuts…

Q: I am a good student with a 4.0 grade point average, am working my way through school and have never gotten in trouble before.  When I explained this to the cop, he just said, “Don’t do drugs.”  and gave me the beer ticket.  Why didn’t I get a warning instead of this expensive ticket?

A: I would easily say that over half of the tickets I give are to pretty good people.  I realize that the tickets are expensive, nowadays even more than ever. I also realize that students do have a tough time with bills, rent, expenses, books, etc.  Do I feel good giving a ticket instead of a warning?  I actually empathize with most people and will do what I can to help them through the ticket — whether or not it gets written.  It’s not a matter of being a good or bad person. I have no way of judging what type of person you are other than based on the few minutes I’ve spent with you.  When giving tickets, I have a responsibility to be fair.  If I gave you a warning, is it fair to the next guy or gal who gets cited?  I’m not saying I haven’t given warnings, but it is usually based on unusual circumstances.  Also, with the start of the school year, the I.V. Foot Patrol is following a strict “No Tolerance” policy.  If you are drinking, keep it off the street so you don’t get a ticket.  The general rule of thumb is no warnings.  Oh and also…. Don’t do drugs!  Sorry, couldn’t resist.

When I look back on my life, I realize it has been full of decisions. Some of them were, shall we say, less than stellar choices. Others, like choosing my career, my family and where I work, have been great. Part of life is learning how to handle all of our decisions, the good and the bad. I hope you find yourself looking back at some of the great decisions you’ve made (you’re at UCSB for one) and smile. However, if you find yourself in a situation that resulted from a bad decision in I.V., I hope you make the next decision to Question Authority and I will gladly do what I can to help you out. In the meantime, have a great year and stay safe. For me, tough decision time: Xbox Halo or PS3 Killzone night? Again, one of those major decisions I need to think about.