If you take a walk down Del Playa on any given Friday or Saturday, you will without a doubt see numerous people being cited for alcohol related “crimes,” surrounded by 4-5 police officers. While this may be standard protocol in places with low crime rates and little to no violence, it seems to me like an absurd waste of resources on the part of the IVPD. Every weekend, without fail, there are always stories, either officially reported or not, of instances of students being robbed, threatened or beaten by non-Isla Vista residents who oftentimes perpetrate these crimes in large groups.
Why are these thieves, gang bangers and fight seekers roaming our streets looking for violence while 4-5 police officers are busy booking some sad-faced freshman for carrying a beer in his pocket or interrogating a girl who misstepped in her high heels? It seems that the focus of the IVPD is more towards the collection of lucrative alcohol-related crime tickets instead of preventing violence by outsiders or pursuing thieves and criminals. Maybe the IVPD should focus its attention more on stopping our fellow Isla Vista residents from being stabbed to death or beaten on the ground by a group of gang members instead of drinking a little too much or urinating behind the wrong dumpster.
The first step to preventing these crimes is enforcing strict measures on people who perpetrate violent crimes in Isla Vista. Instead, the SB superior court handed down a ludicrous slap on the wrist to Benjamin Vargas, who stabbed a man 16 times until he died, following a verbal argument on Abrego, and received only a manslaughter charge, which carries a maximum of 11-year sentence. This means, all factors considered (parole, reduced sentence etc.), this man will be back on the streets of I.V. in a few short years and will have another opportunity to inflict violence on I.V. residents, who by then could be our younger siblings or even current underclassmen. Another similar incident occurred just a few months ago in February when a group of non-Isla Vista residents stabbed two people and continuously beat another student’s head against a curb on the 6600 block of DP; all three victims were hospitalized following the incident.
Until the IVPD and the SB courts take violence in Isla Vista seriously instead of looking at us simply as a nuisance and a source of revenue, stabbings, gang-related violence and theft will continue, and one day Isla Vista will no longer be the paradise that we know it as now.
Jack Foster is a second-year economics major.