Shifting Focus, Taking Action


Montana MacLachlan

It seems to be a constant debate of “who is right” versus “who is wrong.”

Too often I see students complain behind their computer screens about the supposed injustices performed by Isla Vista Foot Patrol and the University of California Police Department. They are not shy when it comes to criticism, but I seldom hear any support. Now, I believe there are three sides of every story: one man, the other man, and the truth.

It is often challenging for IV residents to collaborate with top decision-makers because IV lacks any structure of formal government or representation. This creates a lack of transparency between residents and authoritative bodies, fostering a cycle of unease and distrust.

Most people agree the University should take proper steps to reinvent security measures around the community. But what is the “proper” way? I do not believe it should be a one-sided method, but a collaborative, multi-pronged approach.

The University has been hiring more officers and bringing in supplemental police forces during popular weekends, but there has been less emphasis on community efforts to improve Isla Vista’s image from within. Following last Spring, many argued that it was up to IV to unite, foster higher standards, and hold each other accountable for our actions in order to ignite a positive and passionate movement. They said it was up to us to cohesively want to change the culture of IV. While increasing the police force is necessary, it should be only one of the many measures taken to improve safety.

But has it gotten to an overwhelming point? I cannot drive from El Colegio to Del Playa without encountering at least four police cars.

Earlier this summer, my house received a hefty noise-violation ticket for 6 people hula-hooping on our back deck on a Tuesday at 10:15pm. However, when we had issues with a Peeping Tom who had removed window screens, left face prints and handprints on a window, and broke another window, the police initially refused to come to our house to take fingerprints. I am sure there are countless stories similar to mine.

The police force in IV needs to shift their focus from targeting petty crime, to deciphering truly threatening situations–a shift from a small gathering of Isla Vista residents having a few beers in the comfort of their home, for example, to sexual assault, vandalism, and harassment. It seems there is an inherent focus on trivial crimes, rather than emphasis on regulating safety.

We get heated behind the security of our devices, yet mostly fail to take action. If you want to see a change, don’t just use words. Make a difference, and find the resources.

I respect most authorities, and I acknowledge they have a job to do. Many of them have adapted to the culture of IV, and will always joke around with you given the right opportunity. However, it must be a collaborative effort to refine focus, increase transparency, and maintain accountability to create a better Isla Vista.