Supposed Police Failings Are Made a Scapegoat for Student Actions


Bryn Lemon
Illustration by Amy Chase

Due to the events of last year, the University of California, Santa Barbara has been under the heavy scrutiny of a microscope that gives the entire world the opportunity to view and criticize the actions of our school and city.  Unfortunately, much of that criticism has been directed towards the Isla Vista police force–criticism that is largely unjustified and narrow-minded.

The mission statement of Isla Vista Foot Patrol states that they intend “to provide safety and enforcement for the community of Isla Vista.”  Students who bring their troubles upon themselves through reckless, illegal drinking practices are looking for a scapegoat for their own negligence and irresponsibility. They frequently lay blame on figures of authority such as dorm RAs or police for enforcing the policies that students are well aware they are breaking or for pursuing policies that they feel pale in comparison to others.  These students fail to recognize the good that comes out of these necessary rules–even the minor ones.

Halloween policies, among others, have sparked debate. The community has funded the staffing of 100 officers trained to ensure that they are capable of responding during an event that carries the risk of great danger to our community.  Many students are upset by the no-visitors policy and the different parking restrictions that accompany this, saying that these cause great inconvenience. Students, however, fail to appreciate that this is done in order to protect their vehicles.  It is a shame that these measures are necessary and that many residents have proven time and time again that they are incapable of taking responsibility for their own safety on a large scale and continue to invite friends from out of town. The ensuing irresponsibility leaves police with no other option but to enforce policies designed to ensure that they bring no further harm to themselves or their community.

Many residents claim that the police’s decisions to pursue noise ordinances is a waste of time; students forget, however, that 8,000 people living in Isla Vista are not affiliated with UCSB and have families who do not want to be wrapped up in the chaos of the area.  The police enforce policies such as noise ordinances to ensure their ability to live in IV comfortably as well.  They are not trying to ruin the experience of students on a fun night but rather ensure that these non-student residents can have fun in a safe environment.

The police have made numerous efforts to reach out to the community and receive the input of students through both Coffee with a Cop and Pizza with Police in a personal and inviting manner. If students really do take issue with some of the policies, then they have an obligation to try and change them before criticizing.

It is time that UCSB and Santa Barbara Community College students alike come out and make an effort to understand the intentions behind these policies before blatantly writing them off.  One must not forget that the police in Isla Vista are individuals and they should be respected and thanked for all that they do for students.