Mark Signa Photo courtesy of

Sgt. Mark Signa
Photo courtesy of

Hello UCSB. And Isla Vista. And Santa Barbara. And California. And apparently some nice guy in Norway who checked out the Daily Nexus one day. I think he was trying to Google “Daglig skjæringspunktet mellom politiet og aper” and maybe my article came up. However it happened, it does show that we are living in a small world that we are sharing with so many different people. For those of you new to my articles, I have been a cop in our community for about 25 years. Stop the math in your head and just accept that I now have much greyer hair than when I started here at UCSB.

Early on in my career it was obvious that communication has always been one of the most important parts of law enforcement’s role in our, or any, community. This has never been truer than ever in the last six months. In a short time, UCSB and Isla Vista have been struck by one horrible event after another. Our world just got a lot smaller. The scenes shared with the world of incredible accomplishments by students and residents have been replaced by videos of smoke and police tape. Now there are a lot more officers and deputies out every night. Some people are very happy to see us. Others, not so much. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? We need to talk about it and work together towards solutions. More police is only a Band-Aid. For this community to heal, we need to look at long-term solutions that come from within.

So here I am. I started writing this article 10 years ago with the idea that it could be an opportunity for people to ask questions that they did not feel comfortable asking in person. As a result, I have been very fortunate to be asked to speak to various groups and participate in forums and discussions on various topics involving our community (there’s that word again). I had planned on ending my babbling last year, but with all that has happened and is still happening, I feel that it’s more important than ever that the Police Department reaches out in every way possible. Thanks to the generosity — and there is no other word for it considering my writing skills — of the Daily Nexus over the years, this has been a way for me to reach out and listen to the good, the bad, the bizarre and the questions and comments from all sorts of people. As one of the most challenging years in the history of UCSB and Isla Vista begins, I hope that even in some small way, this article helps build the communication between law enforcement and the community we serve.

Now beginning the next chapter of the Question Authority saga, I start with the reminder that I am not an attorney and I am not giving legal advice. I am merely giving my perspective on your questions as a cop who really does enjoy working in Isla Vista and UCSB (most of the time). I do not ask anyone to agree with me and, in fact, encourage you to disagree and decide for yourself. Hence the title “Question Authority.” So to begin our voyage this week, I will provide the annual start of the year ritual: “Top Tips on How to Avoid Getting Busted in I.V. on a Friday Night.”


  • Stay with friends! As obvious as this is, it is often the cause of many problems for people on the weekends. Someone who is intoxicated is about 100 times less likely to be arrested for public intoxication if they have responsible friends with them who can get them home. Also, you are much less likely to be a victim of a serious crime if you are in a group of friends. Many assaults happen to people walking alone. If you find yourself in a situation where you may be walking alone, use the CSO Escort Program! Call for a free escort at 893-2000. They will meet you and walk or bike with you to your destination! Did I mention the free part?


  • If you are walking around with a cup, carry it upside down. It’s not a law, but it avoids having cops walk up every 10 feet asking what’s in the cup. Unless you really like us and want to talk to us a lot! That’s okay too!


  • Use bathrooms and not cars parked behind the apartments or their laundry rooms. Nothing says fresh like pee-scented Tide laundry! The ticket runs about $150. A hundred and fifty bucks is a pretty big incentive to hold it in!


  • If you drink, don’t drive! And if you are under 21, don’t have alcohol in the car at all! Even if you have a clown car filled with 15 over-21 clowns and one beer and you get caught driving, you can lose your license for a year. Plus, there will be DUI checkpoints in and around Isla Vista every weekend. So if you think to yourself, “Should I?” the answer is no!


  • KEEP IT LOCAL!!!!! One of the biggest issues Isla Vista has faced has been the influx of visitors to our community who don’t care about it. If we are to preserve Isla Vista and keep it a friendly and safe home to all of us, we need to make sure that we don’t invite people here that trash our town and leave. That ruins it for everyone.


There is so much more to talk about and I look forward to hearing from all of you. Please take advantage of all the forums and opportunities to participate and communicate with members of the community, including law enforcement. In fact, next Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon, I will be joining Lt. Brad McVay from the Isla Vista Foot Patrol at Starbucks on Pardall Road for the first of many Coffee with a Cop events. This is just going to be a couple of cops hanging out, drinking coffee and talking with anyone and everyone who wants to talk. Come and Question Authority!

So long for now, and stay tuned for the next thrilling episode of Question Authority as I discuss Halloween and my rabid fear of spider-monkeys dressed in sweater vests. Stay safe and see you around town!

What would we do without Lt. Signa and his zero-tolerance policy for laundry pissers? Welcome back to the Nexus Lieutenant. 

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! Email me anytime at or call UCSB PD at 893-3446.