UC Santa Barbara’s Office of the Student Advocate launched a police complaint form on Jan. 28 for students to submit complaints against police officers from the UC Police Department. Spearheaded by Student Advocate General Geovany Lucero, the form is meant to provide students with a comfortable, safe and secure avenue to express any grievances they may have from negative interactions with the UC Police Department.
Lucero first contemplated the project after personally experiencing UC Police Department (UCPD) mishandle their case when they were assaulted in 2019.
“I tried handling that situation myself, and I tried getting the university’s help and I tried to talk to the detective on my case … but it was so difficult, and the biggest problem for me was that there was misinformation written on the report of my assault,” Lucero said.
“I obviously wanted to complain against the detective that did that to me, but there was nowhere really for me to go,” Lucero continued.
Because of the misinformation on their case file, Lucero said they were not able to pursue any legal action against the perpetrator of the assault. In order to ensure other students would not endure the same obstacles in taking legal action, Lucero looked to find a solution where students would be able to report any grievances they have with the actions of law enforcement officers.
“I was like, ‘how do I make this so that there isn’t this big barrier for students who want to complain and put these grievances down, but also for students to acknowledge it and present it to the university and demand change?’” Lucero said.
Thus began the formation of the complaint form. The google form is confidential, and no police department — Isla Vista Foot Patrol nor UCPD — manages or oversees the complaints received through this form.
The complaint form asks for general biographical information, along with questions regarding the date and time of the incident, the names and badge numbers of the involved officers — along with a space to describe the officers if their names and badges are not known — and the details of the incident.
“I’m hoping that the data from this form will demonstrate that marginalized identities and marginalized communities on campus are going through different experiences when it comes to law enforcement,” Lucero said.
“In our specific community, there is this difference of experience when it comes to confronting or interacting with law enforcement, and I want to highlight those experiences, especially if they’re negative ones, and be able to bring some type of change on the university level.”
Lucero and their office will work to use the data from the form to “analyze common inadequacies and student concerns with our police departments and address these matters to the University for meaningful changes,” the form read.
“There’s a good chance that the majority of UCSB students will say that the police are good and the police are protecting, but I want to focus on those couple of voices that don’t have that experience and give them an opportunity to heal and care and protect themselves from what’s going on,” Lucero said.
Lucero emphasized that fears about interacting with law enforcement should be the least of a student’s worries and hopes that this form helps to bring more transparency between the student body, the university and UCPD.
“There’s no need for anybody to have to survive an institution,” they said. “You should be able to come here and get an education, get a degree and project your life for the better. You should be able to come here, go to your classes, stress about your midterms and not stress that somebody is going to accuse you of stealing and you’re going to get arrested and detained.”
Looking forward, Lucero wants to increase the complaint form’s accessibility to the community by working with the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) to advertise the form and provide physical copies of it available in the IVCSD office.
“[This form] will be an opportunity for us to hopefully build community and bring us together a little bit closer for the sake of a safer campus,” Lucero said.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Feb. 3, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.