I have to say, it’s been a pretty good day. I know that winter is coming, or at least the Santa Barbara version of winter, but it’s a beautiful, warm, sunshiny day with the birds a’chirpin. I don’t even mind that those birds were chirping and singing right above my car after they’d eaten what appears to have been a glorious breakfast — it’s all good!
All day, people at work have been smiling and saying, “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” and asking how I am. When I reply with my customary, “It’s just another day in paradise,” I’m getting smiles back in return. Even while driving down Los Carneros Road, I started to feel bad about the poor black and white cat that looked like it had been run over in the roadway. But as I passed by, although it was still a sad moment, I felt better seeing that it was a skunk. Of course, the skunk still won the battle — it was if it had climbed up into my dashboard and had a litter of babies, who then grew up and had a family spray-fest through my heater vent and right into my face. Ugh. But I had to just smile and look upward, thinking, “Way to go. That’s one for you, my flattened friend.”
To top it off, at lunch I went to pay for my spicy Freebirds quesadilla and found out that some random fine gentleman had paid for it already. Keep calm and chive on, my friend — KCCO. So now it’s my turn to pay it forward.
As I look to the questions that have been broached these past few weeks, I happen to have a couple of questions posed to me straight from the crew at the Nexus! And to be honest, they aren’t softballs by any stretch …
Why do we see police officers rolling stop signs, talking on cell phones and driving way above the speed limit when we get citations for the same things?
Well, first of all, my mommy always told me that I was special. Okay, so that has nothing to do with this question. But to be brutally honest, sometimes it’s completely justified; we as police officers are allowed to violate certain laws, or are exempt from certain laws while we are working. But also there are a lot of times we (and I must include myself here) cut corners and push the limits. Take talking on a cell phone while driving: The law exempts police officers when we are using our phones in the contexts of our jobs. As a supervisor, specifically, I am often using my cell phone to respond to calls where I have to get confidential or critical information that can’t be put out over the radio. For those times, we are exempt. If we are using it to talk to our wives, girlfriends, dogs, or to ask Sylvia where our wife buried the girlfriend’s dog, we are violating the law, and quite possibly crossing a lot of other moral boundaries.
With our driving habits, you should generally see cop cars driving at or below the speed of everyone else. It’s annoying, but we should be driving slower so that we can see what’s going on around us while patrolling. Sometimes you may see us going through I.V. really quickly. Obviously, if there are lights and sirens on, there’s an emergency. But sometimes we also have to get there as quickly as we can without the lights and sirens. For calls about fights or domestic disputes, we try to get there as quickly as possible. But while being quick is one thing, being reckless is never acceptable.
I also have to admit that there are times when officers are just in a hurry. Maybe our Slurpee is going to melt, donuts are on a 2-for-1 sale at Starbucks, we’ve gotta pee or we have some other dumb reason that doesn’t justify bad driving on our part. We have to be held to the same standards of those we are entrusted to protect. Not only have I had to reprimand officers for improper driving, but also, personally, my own worst disciplinary action was brought down upon me because of my bad driving. Even though I was going after a fleeing robbery suspect running from an officer, it was stupid for me to risk the lives of others just to catch a crook. In this job, it’s easy to get tunnel vision, and sometimes we cops just need to be reminded to slow down. How else are we going to see that woman burying a dog … Honey? What the …
My neighbor signed a citizen’s arrest against me for disturbing the peace. The law reads that in order to be guilty of disturbing his peace, the disturbance has to be willful or malicious. I had no intention of bugging him, so wouldn’t I be innocent of that charge?
Unfortunately for you, you’re confusing are the terms “willful and malicious” with “having specific intent.” Specific intent means that you had the desire to disturb the neighbor and played your music to purposefully annoy him. You had the specific intent to commit that act. With willful and malicious, it is a much broader definition of your actions and behavior. You had a party at your house, and even though you did not know it was bothering that specific neighbor, playing your Metallica or Motörhead CD at full volume at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday was, surprisingly, a bit on the bothersome side. Wouldn’t a reasonable person know that being that loud at that time would bother people? You should know that that would be considered unreasonable, even by I.V. standards. So since you created so much noise, you should have reasonably recognized that it would be disturbing to the neighbors; therefore, your act could be considered willful or malicious.
So what about Zamfir and his magical pan flute? Yes, playing that at anytime of the day or night would be considered willful, malicious and, quite possibly, in numerous violations of the U.N. Convention against Torture.
So there goes another day in paradise in our unique little I.V. community. Time for me to go clean the windshield and look for more ways to pay it forward. So who knows, if you suddenly find out someone paid your lunch for you, just ignore that annoying whistling cop walking away and pay it forward. Keep calm and chive on, my friends. KCCO.
Sgt. Mark Signa has a feeling that he’s about to get invited to a whole lot of lunches.
If you have any questions about Halloween or about any other police issues, please contact the Isla Vista Foot Patrol at (805) 681-4179 or the UCSB Police Department at (805)893-3446. You can also email Question Authority at QA@police.ucsb.edu and I will be sure to do what I can to answer your questions and help you out.