I have to completely admit I have it easy. As I sit here on my bully pulpit, soap box, pedestal, mount or what ever raised platform you prefer, I espouse my mighty edicts of wisdom on the masses. Hurling my bits of judgments toward the humble masses with pious humility, deflecting all detractors with a witty retort, I feel oh so important and vital to all. And, of course, this is the moment I get my well deserved Mohammad Ali bee sting to the family jewels, bringing me back down to earth. Whether it’s as simple as someone pointing out the obvious flaw in my idiotic response to a question, being stumped by my second grader’s math homework or even just my wife actually knocking me upside the head with a simple, “Really?”, it’s those reality checks that help keep me in my place. It’s something we all need once in awhile. Luckily I have a lot of people around willing to help me out with that. Some maybe just a bit too aggressively…


What do you do if a cop pulls you over, gives you no reason and just lets you go? Is that legal?

Legal? Yes. Bad policing? Yes. WAIT! Before you go and try to kick my family jewels, let me clarify this! Yes, not saying why you pulled someone over is legal; however, you still must have good probable cause for the stop. Probable cause means I have some reasonable suspicion that you have committed or are about to commit or are involved in the commission of an illegal act. Without the probable cause, or PC, the stop is then illegal. We are taught from the beginning it is good practice to start our traffic stops with who we are and why we stopped you. I mean, it’s no secret that we pulled you over for going 65 miles per hour down Trigo, backwards, blindfolded and using only your teeth to steer.

If you do get pulled over and the cop doesn’t tell you why before leaving, it’s not a big deal to contact the police station and ask. As a supervisor, I can easily ask the officer and then explain it to you. Although impressive, the whole driving with your teeth thing was not your best idea ever.


Are cameras at stop lights legal? Isn’t it an invasion of privacy?

Recently the Los Angeles City Council banned the use of the stop light cameras in L.A. The reason was not an issue of the legality of the cameras, but more with the way the program was set up. The traffic camera program was written so that when someone was caught on camera running a red light, a ticket would be sent to the possible driver. The problem was that there was no real way to enforce it. They had to rely on honest drivers to pay the fines, while those who just ignored the tickets could not be forced to pay. Basically, the honest drivers get hosed.

In cities like San Diego, the program is going strong. They aggressively enforce the violations and go after the drivers to collect the fines. Many people have tried to fight it, but so far the program is still going full force.

So you also asked if it was an invasion of privacy. Sorry, but nope. The camera is in a public area and is taking a picture of you through the window of your car. It’s not seeing anything that you can’t reasonably expect someone walking past your car to see. So I am very sorry to say that if they catch you driving through a red light naked, it’s your bad …


I think someone stole my laptop from my apartment. What should I do?

One of the worst things that can happen to a student in Isla Vista is to have their laptops stolen right before finals week. Sadly, it happens way too often. Let’s face it, I.V. is a pretty great place with a lot of fun people, but there are some who are just plain [edited for family content] and ruin it for everyone.

One of the problems is that when I say “burglar,” most people immediately think of some skinny guy in black clothes with a black mask sneaking in a window at 2 a.m. carrying a pillow case full of silverware and expensive jewelry. Others immediately think of McDonald’s Hamburglar, but I’ve probably already lost their attention anyway. To see what a burglar looks like, just take a look at anyone around you. They look like you and me, and might even be! Most of the burglaries, especially of laptops, occur when doors are left open and unlocked. The thief just walks in, takes the laptop from the living room and is gone within about 20 seconds.

If people locked their doors, most of the burglaries could have been prevented. But if you are already a victim of the theft, call the I.V. Foot Patrol (681-4179) or the UCSB Police Dept. (893-3446). We will take a report and investigate it, maybe even get fingerprints or other evidence that can help track down your laptop and get it back to you. You need to call as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less of a chance there is you will get your property back.


So, that’s all for now. I hope you all have a good weekend and stay safe. Don’t forget to lock your doors, look both ways before you cross the street and eat your spinach. Well, at least lock your doors.

Take care and if you have any questions about tickets, laws, rules, cops, or such, don’t hesitate to ask me. Because I am all-knowing and can do any … OWWWW … okay, I’m a moron, but here to help you if I can. Just take some time and Question Authority.

Sgt. Mark Signa is an officer of the UCSB Police Dept.


Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! E-mail me anytime at: QA@police.ucsb.edu or call UCSB PD at 893-3446.