Sunday Commentary: Fundamental Distrust Between Youth and Police Underlies Current Issues on Campus and in the City

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Student_protest_november_2009On Tuesday we will find out the long-awaited results of the pepper-spray report.  Many are bracing themselves for a whitewashing, but I don’t think that is going to happen.  The reason that is not going to happen is that Cruz Reynoso is not going to allow it to happen.

I know that he would have preferred to have been able to speak with, or at least have the Kroll investigators speak with, Lt. John Pike and the police chief, but apparently they have enough to know who did what and who ordered whom to do what.

Interestingly enough is the city council’s curious decision to put the Minor Alcohol Preclusion Ordinance on the agenda that evening.  It is difficult to know whether it will simply lose its force and get overshadowed by the pepper-spray report, or if anger fueled by one will spill over into the other.

There is an irony in that both matters may be determined the same day, because I think, in a very real way, just as this issue really is about Picnic Day and alcohol for the public, this issue is also about the police for college students.

In many ways, the opposition to the Alcohol Minor Preclusion Ordinance has to do with distrust for the police embodied by the pepper-spraying incident.  If you listen to student complaints, it is really about giving the police another tool that they can, in their minds, use to harass the young – not just those under 21, but those who appear they could be under 21. As someone nearly 40, that’s pretty much anyone under 30.

In many ways, the pepper spraying is a culmination of poor police tactics at handling protest situations on the UC Davis campus since 2007.  In 2007, the police made the fateful decision to arrest nearly a dozen protesters who were “occupying” Mrak Hall – in the former usage of the word. The problem was that you cannot trespass in a public building during normal business hours, and so the arrests were actually illegal.

In 2009, it was the occupation of Mrak Hall that led to the arrest and acquittal of Brienna Holmes.  Ms. Holmes has since filed a lawsuit against UC Davis, alleging that Captain Joyce Souza had singled her out and used excessive force as she waited outside of the building where a protest was being held.

She told the Vanguard, “On the night I was arrested in front of Mrak, I went to my evening class and returned back to Mrak to find a friend of my mine. I was standing alone towards the parking lot and news vans, when Officer Souza approached me.”

“Still to this day, I don’t understand why I was singled out and pushed by Officer Souza. I was not trespassing or aggravating the situation in any way. I was simply an innocent bystander eventually tangled in the police chaos,” she continued.

In 2010, a student was Tasered during a protest where protesters threatened to perhaps attempt to block I-80.  Initially, the police denied the reports, but when video surfaced they were forced to acknowledge that it had occurred.

Last year, the students’ distrust increased when it became apparent that university organizations were tracking student activism.

According to a release from a student group, “The information has shocked students, staff and faculty at UC Davis as they begin to examine it. The documents reveal that high-ranking administrators, staff members who work closely with students and leaders of the campus police department formed a network called the ‘Activism Response Team’ to keep close tabs on student activists and their plans.”

While the “Activism Response Team” was far more innocuous than it first seemed, the revelations corresponded with revelations that a UC Davis Police Officer, Johanna Zaconi, had allegedly disguised herself as a “‘protester” when she introduced herself as part of the UC Davis Biological Department in March.  And then she denied being a police officer when confronted by student protesters.

University Spokesperson Claudia Morain denied that there was an undercover officer and that this was an infiltration.  She told the Vanguard, “The officer was in plain clothes and part of the police presence to ensure public safety.”

However, she did acknowledge that this was not handled as well as it should have been.

“This clearly has caused concern among some students and members of the community, and we can do better in the future,” Ms. Morain told the Vanguard last year. “Officers are going to identify themselves from now on, and they’ll either be in uniform or have a badge on their belts.”

All of the past incidents have led to a pattern of distrust of the police and the university, for their handling of such matters.

When we wonder why the students might not trust the university, perhaps we ought to understand that anxiety within the six-year context of events.

One of the students who was pepper sprayed, David Buscho. is not hopeful that the investigation will yield the kinds of findings he sees as needed, but he said, “I think now that a reputable organization like the ACLU is here [and] is involved in representing the interests of the students, I think that now we can actually say that [the university will move in the right direction to rectify the situation].”

“To date all [the university] has done is put two officers on paid administrative leave,” he noted.

Mr. Buscho questions the independence of those investigations and believes they are simply there to build a defense case for the university.

ACLU attorney Michael Risher is a bit more diplomatic.

“We will certainly be interested to see what the investigation comes up with.  We will read their reports very carefully,” he told the Vanguard.  “Our goals are to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, to get to the bottom of what did happen and we see them as complementary.”

“There have already been two extensions of the report that is coming out,” he added.  “We are not going to prejudge those.  We’ll be very interested to see what they say.  We feel there is also a need for an independent look into this and that’s part of the reason we filed this.”

At the same time, there has been a lengthy history of distrust between students and City of Davis police, that is also reflective in the stance against the Minor Alcohol Preclusion act.  The biggest concerns for students have been about what constitutes probable cause and reasonable suspicion.

Within that context, one must understand the longstanding distrust of police by members of the minority community.

During our MLK Event, Osahon Ekhator said that as soon as he got a new car from his parents, he was pulled over seven times by the police.

Professor Desmond Jolly said, “For young black men, unfortunately, I think it’s still a problem,” and related that his son was stopped frequently by police in Davis, “almost every Friday and Saturday night.”

“Davis has become much more open and tolerant about diversity,” he said, “But there are still pockets of resistance.  I think the locus of that might be the police department and perhaps, in some degree, in the schools.”

One reason that students are opposing this has very little to do with alcohol and a lot to do with the belief that this will give police another tool to see a group of young people and single them out with very little rationale needed.

Moreover, distrust was also fueled by the lack of notice and prior discussion they had before proceeding with the proposed ordinance.

At their January meeting, the council expressed concern that this matter had not been vetted through the Student Liaison Commission, a body that is not only representative of students, but also law enforcement and business interests.

They passed the ordinance on first reading, in order to send it to the Student Liaison Commission, who would hear the matter in late January.

The discussion that followed should have been telling about the gulf between the police and students – and the manner in which this came forward makes it far worse.

Rebecca Sterling was recently elected student body president. Speaking at the meeting, she said that this ordinance came as a shock and she believes that students should have been involved in the conversation from the start.

Yara, a current ASUCD Senator, had issues with the term “reasonable cause,” arguing she would feel more comfortable with something like “objective symptoms.”  She stated flatly, “Our biggest issue is there is distrust between students and police.  This really did not help at all.”

She cited a good relationship last year between the police and Greek Life as the result of pre-Picnic Day conversations.  The result was that no one from Greek Life was arrested at all.  She said that they had built a good relationship but “I think this completely destroys that.  It’s going to cause more issues because I wouldn’t call the police on my party if all my friends are going to get breathalyzed on their way out.  I would probably stay at a party that was getting out of hand, too.”

Carly Sandstrom, the ACUCD External Affairs Chair said, “Having this act increases the gap between the student and the police population.  It doesn’t help with wanting to communicate with their neighbors – if you’re going to have a party – because, regardless, you can get fined.”

The city council wanted to hear what the students had to say – but oddly enough, except for Councilmember Greenwald, they did not attend this meeting.

The message should have been loud and clear.  And yet here we are, a month later, and the council is bringing back the item with a staff recommendation for approval.

We wonder why the students distrust the process – I think most probably believe that they have not had their concerns heard and will not get them heard.

Unfortunately, community members seem to not really understand what this issue is about.  Elaine Roberts Musser spoke in favor of the ordinance at the January city council meeting, and posted yesterday:  “The police attempted to engage the students, they essentially refused by voting ‘no’ on the ordinance and then not showing up in any significant numbers to discuss it, which is no surprise.”

She added, “Students seem to want unfettered rights to consume alcohol, no matter their age.”

The problem is that the way in which this item was presented directly to council without having a discussion by the commission, or discussions with student groups, poisoned whatever possibility there was for collaboration or buy-in.

More importantly, I have yet to see an honest give and take.  I have yet to see a dialogue, rather than directives from police that this is how it is going to be.

Moreover, I think alcohol is only a small part of this issue.  The bigger issue that came out, both at the council meeting and in the student meeting, was not alcohol but police-student interactions.  The students said it – there is distrust between students and police and everything that has happened since November has been about that distrust.

That is the real problem, and it is what is fueling the lawsuit against the university, and it is what is fueling the opposition to this Minor Alcohol Preclusion Ordinance.

Six years ago, African-Americans in large numbers came before the city council to express their concerns with treatment by the police.  Most were students.  Hundreds in May of that same year marched from the Memorial Union to the police station.

The response from the broader community was indifference, and worse.  Those problems, while not nearly as public, have not gone away and they are the underlying current that fuels this opposition.

No one wants to hear that today, let alone acknowledge it.  But that’s where we stand.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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54 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Fundamental Distrust Between Youth and Police Underlies Current Issues on Campus and in the City”

  1. Matt Williams

    David Greenwald said . . .

    [i]”Moreover, I think alcohol is only a small part of this issue. The bigger that came out both at the council meeting and in the student meeting was not alcohol but police-student interactions. The students said it – there is distrust between students and police and everything that has happened in the since November has been about that distrust.”[/i]

    Setting aside the African American community’s concerns for a moment, is there any surprise that there is distrust between the student community and the police? The students want to bend or break (in the case of alchohol) the rules, and when they are doing that they don’t want to get caught. Who do they fear is going to catch them? The police. It’s a simple dynamic. It was that way when I was at Cornell in the ’60s and ’70’s. It was that way when I was at Woodstock. It was that way for every poster here whenever they were college age. It will be that way in perpetuity.

    The concerns of the African-American community are nowhere near as simple, and deserve a full and focused airing. That airing should not be merged with the race-independent student issues.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Matt: I don’t think the issue is that simple. But even if it were, part of the criticism here is how the alcohol ordinance was approached. If the city were to impose a new light ordinance that increased how light city streets had to be – would you expect the first mention of the ordinance to be at city council or in a commission which went to the affected neighborhood association? To me this is a trust issue not a drinking issue.

  3. Matt Williams

    David, look at the lesson illuminated by the radio tower process. Lots went on before Anon paid attention, and then the wailing and gnashing of teeth poured out. Drinking has been discussed and discussed and discussed over multiple years. We’ve had to have discussion about deaths in which drinking at student activities was a significant contributing factor. No one should have been the least bit surprised that Chief Black decifed that stronger measures were needed.

    If the students feel they were blindsided then they probably should look in the mirror.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Unfortunately, community members seem to not really understand what this issue is about. Elaine Roberts Musser spoke in favor of the ordinance at the January city council meeting, and posted yesterday: “The police attempted to engage the students, they essentially refused by voting ‘no’ on the ordinance and then not showing up in any significant numbers to discuss it, which is no surprise.”

    She added, “Students seem to want unfettered rights to consume alcohol, no matter their age.”

    The problem is that the way in which this item was presented directly to council without having a discussion at the commission, or discussions with student groups poisoned whatever possibility there was for collaboration or buy-in.

    More importantly, I have yet to see an honest give and take. I have yet to see a dialogue, rather than directives from police that this is how it is going to be.[/quote]

    First of all, the students had an opportunity to discuss the issue, and did not bother to show up. What that tells me is students are not interested in dialogue, they are only interested in getting their way. Matt Williams’ assessments is right on the money:

    [quote]Setting aside the African American community’s concerns for a moment, is there any surprise that there is distrust between the student community and the police? The students want to bend or break (in the case of alchohol) the rules, and when they are doing that they don’t want to get caught. Who do they fear is going to catch them? The police. It’s a simple dynamic. It was that way when I was at Cornell in the ’60s and ’70’s. It was that way when I was at Woodstock. It was that way for every poster here whenever they were college age. It will be that way in perpetuity. [/quote]

  5. hpierce

    [quote]If the city were to impose a new light ordinance that increased how light city streets had to be – would you expect the first mention of the ordinance to be at city council or in a commission which went to the affected neighborhood association?[/quote]Your choice of metaphor is ironic… when the city adopted the Dark Sky ordinance, there was no pblic engagement, no neighborhood meetings, no stakeholder outreach… I guess the level of public involvement that most people demand is whether they agree with the change or not…. if they disagree, they want heavy public discussion… if they agree, it’s OK to streamline the decision-making process.

  6. Mr.Toad

    As long as students in Davis fail to vote and as long as students on campus can’t vote in the city they will be ignored or worse by police and decision makers. This is not a public safety issue. Students walking with .01 blood alcohol are hardly at risk of being hurt as a result of their alcohol consumption. This is a behavior of young people control issue because the noise ordinance isn’t enough for the neighbors. But don’t take it personally kids they did the same thing with poor people as well voting to keep them out of a downtown church shelter because of problems caused by some homeless people in the area. Davis is notorious for abusing the homeless, people of color, and, of course, students.

    In the sixties they said you’re old enough to kill but not for voting. Today I say you are old enough to vote but not for drinking. You don’t like the 60’s generation oppressing you vote them out!

    Yes Matt, some reflection in the mirror is good for everyone on occasion.

  7. Matt Williams

    Toad, speaking of reflection, you and I should get together some time over a cup of coffee or something stronger. I’m in the phonebook. Give me a call some time at your convenience. Despite our differences on some issues I think sharing thoughts would be enjoyable for both of us.

  8. JustSaying

    The [u]Vanguard[/u] again tosses a bunch of barely-related (certainly not related in the way alleged) and tries to make some eternal truth out of the mess. Then, kisses off commenters’ views by claiming “it’s not that simple….” and hint that they’re racists to boot.

    Of course, “it’s not that simple” when if we conclude by making the case that this ordinance (to allow police to talk with kids who look to have been drinking) equates to a serious African-American demonstration six years ago.

    P.S.–I’m not a racist. So, don’t even start….

  9. Mr.Toad

    Not true about dark sky. There was a process then just as there is a process now. The difference is that we were not talking about arresting people for their lights.

    Matt said:”It was that way when I was at Cornell in the ’60s and ’70’s.’ “

    Yeah and when they passed the Rockefeller drug laws, clearly as tools of oppression, did you say no problem I love Rocky or did you say oh shit?

    I remember when Abby Hoffman got caught with a suitcase full of cocaine and the authorities claimed it was simply a drug case, the fact that Hoffman was a member of the Chicago Seven had nothing to do with it. Just as the Davis PD dismiss what they are doing claiming its a simple tool.

    Remember when they found Rockefeller in that woman’s bed after he had a heart attack and died? How many young people knew he had been doing to her what he did to all the stoners in New York with his drug laws. Yeah well guess what? Its the same thing the authorities want to do to the kids in Davis

  10. Matt Williams

    Mr.Toad said . . .

    [i]”In the sixties they said you’re old enough to kill but not for voting. Today I say you are old enough to vote but not for drinking. You don’t like the 60’s generation oppressing you vote them out!”[/i]

    It is interesting to look back on those years. The drinking age in New York was 18 at the time and I’m not exactly sure how many of us survived. The experience all the states that reduced the drinking age from 21 to 18 (or 19) had made changing it back to 21 a very, very easy decision. I’m not sure that we ever get really good at multi-tasking, but drinking and doing anything else is to my mind very definitely multi-tasking.

    Finally, I see “[i]Students walking with .01 blood alcohol . . .[/i]” as qualifying for a parallel version of the old saying “you can’t get a little bit pregnant. If you are going to achieve any level of blood alchohol stay in the place where you are imbibing until you reattain .00.

    JMHO

    I guess my thoughts are that

  11. hpierce

    [quote]As long as students in Davis fail to vote and as long as students on campus can’t vote in the city they will be ignored or worse by police and decision makers.[/quote]Until such time that students living on or off campus, in UC owned facilities, are completely exempt from contributing to property tax, while the city has the burden of supplying many services they receive, IMHO they should not be ALLOWED to vote….

  12. Matt Williams

    Mr.Toad said . . .

    [i]”Yeah and when they passed the Rockefeller drug laws, clearly as tools of oppression, did you say no problem I love Rocky or did you say oh s**t?”[/i]

    Truth be known, I don’t remember what or when the Rockefeller drug laws were. Can you refresh my memory?

    [i]”I remember when Abby Hoffman got caught with a suitcase full of cocaine and the authorities claimed it was simply a drug case, the fact that Hoffman was a member of the Chicago Seven had nothing to do with it. Just as the Davis PD dismiss what they are doing claiming its a simple tool.”[/i]

    If Abby had a suitcase full of cocaine, he needed to get Bill Clinton as a lawyer. The “I never inhaled” defense is robust in those situations.

    [i]”Its the same thing the authorities want to do to the kids in Davis.”[/i]

    You lost me on this one. What is it you think the authorities want to do to the kids in Davis?

  13. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Students walking with .01 blood alcohol are hardly at risk of being hurt as a result of their alcohol consumption. [/quote]

    It is my understanding that one of the three student pedestrians recently killed in traffic was believed to be intoxicated. “Walking while drinking” is DANGEROUS…

  14. hpierce

    [quote]Until such time that students living on or off campus, in UC owned facilities, are completely [u][b]NOT[/b][/u] exempt from contributing to property tax, while the city has the burden of supplying many services they receive, IMHO they should not be ALLOWED to vote…. [/quote]Typo…

  15. JustSaying

    [quote]“I guess the level of public involvement that most people demand is whether they agree with the change or not…. if they disagree, they want heavy public discussion… if they agree, it’s OK to streamline the decision-making process.”[/quote]On the other hand, what’s wrong with bringing up items in the public forum of the City Council then determining whether the topic needs more discussion or not? Pretty standard stuff here.

    The nonsense about “bringing the students along” with a series of heartfelt interactions before the City Council even looks at the issue is, well, nonsense. We’re now down to a blip on the students’ radar on this issue. (Hence, the need to tie it in to pepper-spraying, racial insensitivity, and, finally (thanks to Mr.Toad’s extreme rant), The Holocaust.

    Interestingly, the city (by expecting that this would be a business-as-usual topic) has played into the hands of the few who are moved to speak against the proposal (including the [u]Vanguard[/u], which now claims that by showing up the students vote no or by not showing up they vote no).

  16. JustSaying

    [quote]Mr. Toad: “Its the same thing the authorities want to do to the kids in Davis.”

    Matt Williams: “You lost me on this one. What is it you think the authorities want to do to the kids in Davis?”[/quote]Matt, maybe you missed Mr. Toad’s wrap-up on this same topic yesterday? It’s illuminating about the level of neurotic thinking that can go into a simple city ordinance, and, therefore, worth repeating in full: [quote]“Chief Black told the Council, ‘We’re trying to do this in our efforts for 2012’s Picnic Day.’ He added, ‘Regardless of when it’s adopted it’s a good ordinance, it’s not going to be just a Picnic Day ordinance.’

    So then is picnic day the problem or is it the Krystalnacht of Davis student oppression.

    One thing I wonder is who thought this up did the chief come up with this on his own or is he representing some cabal of people in the city?”[/quote]Maybe you can have coffee with him sometime and figure this out.

  17. hpierce

    [quote]Not true about dark sky.[/quote]Nicely “dismissed, with the arrogance of not saying why. Were you here then? I was. Can you even say that there was one (or more) neighborhood meetings? There were not. Did the measure go to the Planning Commission? I will agree that thjere is a difference… lighting is not “behavior”, nor does it go to individual responsibility. What I criticized is not the substance (abuse?) issues, but the gnashing of teeth about the PROCESS issues.

  18. hpierce

    [quote]On the other hand, what’s wrong with bringing up items in the public forum of the City Council then determining whether the topic needs more discussion or not? [/quote]Absolutely nothing wrong with that… never said there was… an Australian wanting the city to consider having the city reverse the Coriolis effect in Davis, as a sign of support for the southern hemisphere, is welcome to so opine at a CC meeting during public comment (might even get two or three votes from the CC to refer it to staff, prepare a report, and agendize it for a future meeting).

  19. TimR

    What exactly is the problem we are trying to address? If it is ultimately to prevent injury or death as a result of alcohol consumption, then we should really be targeting males between the age of 21-35, as they are most likely to abuse alcohol. Or do we just want to catch some kids with a buzz, so they don’t piss on our lawns?

    I think the council should thank the Chief for the suggestion, but put their efforts towards education and prevention for alcohol abusers of all ages. A good start might be to stop the marketing of alcoholic beverages to young people.

  20. JustSaying

    [quote]“Absolutely nothing wrong with that… never said there was… an Australian wanting the city to consider having the city reverse the Coriolis effect in Davis….”[/quote]Actually, I was agreeing with your somewhat cynical comment and trying to add to it, not argue against it.

    Maybe the Australian has something*; we spend hours of City Council time listening to odd comments that will result in as much city action and to people making the case for selecting them for some commission.

    Why can’t these uncontrollable, hardly ending public comments be directed to a separate meeting of the council instead of using up time that could be used discussing important municipal issues?
    —–
    *My New Zealand relatives keep trying to convince me that their bathtub water goes down the drain the correct way. Maybe I can propose a city study to have the fireplace banner/bag burner commission look at whether we could improve water conservation by decelerating the rate it leaves our households.

  21. Mr.Toad

    Of course not Matt as Wavy Gravy said “Anyone who remembers the 60’s wasn’t really there.”

    Try it again Matt and put the whole thing together. It a two step problem the kind we want high school kids to be able to follow. I’m sure you can do it.

    Remember when they found Rockefeller in that woman’s bed after he had a heart attack and died? How many young people knew he had been doing to her what he did to all the stoners in New York with his drug laws. Yeah well guess what? Its the same thing the authorities want to do to the kids in Davis

  22. Frankly

    [i]”During our MLK Event, Osahon Ekhator said that as soon as he got a new car from his parents, he was pulled over seven times by the police.”[/i]

    Either he is lying about this or there were reasons other than the fact he is a minority. My guess is that it is a bit of both.

    There is much more hate displayed against cops that there is evidence of racism from the cops. Tollerance and empathy should be universal should they not? What about tollerance and empathy for police given the job they are tasked to do? No matter what your ethnic make up, treating cops with respect when pulled over or when questioned goes a very long way in them responding in kind. If you distrust and dislike cops, it will come out and it will probably be a self-fullfilling prophecy.

    It was the generation of the baby boomers that ramped up the cop-hating, military-hating social and political rhetoric. It was the same back then… mostly a bunch of drugged-out fun-seekers protesting the adult downers that wanted to ruin their fun high times. Now it is their kids doing the same. The apple apparently does not fall too far from the tree.

  23. Mr Obvious

    [quote]I think the council should thank the Chief for the suggestion, but put their efforts towards education and prevention for alcohol abusers of all ages.[/quote]

    Yeah, because nobody has every attempted to educate the youth about alcohol.

  24. Mr.Toad

    “Either he is lying about this or there were reasons other than the fact he is a minority. My guess is that it is a bit of both.”

    He seemed pretty honest to me.

  25. JustSaying

    [quote][u]Mr.Toad[/u]: “This is not a public safety issue. Students walking with .01 blood alcohol are hardly at risk of being hurt as a result of their alcohol consumption.”

    [u]TimR[/u]: “What exactly is the problem we are trying to address? If it is ultimately to prevent injury or death as a result of alcohol consumption, then we should really be targeting males between the age of 21-35, as they are most likely to abuse alcohol. Or do we just want to catch some kids with a buzz, so they don’t piss on our lawns?”[/quote]Or is it a little more than pissing on our lawn? Should we be concerned with those under 21-35 drinking, even though the rates are going down somewhat?[quote][u]Quick internet search[/u]: “Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.

    Yet drinking continues to be widespread among adolescents, as shown by nationwide surveys as well as studies in smaller populations.

    According to data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an annual survey of U.S. youth, three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol.

    And when youth drink they tend to drink intensively, often consuming four to five drinks at one time. MTF data show that 11 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 29 percent of 12th graders had engaged in heavy episodic (or “binge1”) drinking within the past two weeks.”
    [/quote]Thank you, Chief, for thinking about our kids.

  26. Mr.Toad

    “And when youth drink they tend to drink intensively, often consuming four to five drinks at one time.”

    And how does this address the problem if they blow a .01 they are not binge drinking. If they are binge drinking the cops should know it. Drunk in public is already a crime. If you think this will work as a deterrent you are mistaken. It will work no better than any other form of prohibition. What it will do is make the kids hate and fear the cops more than they already do.

  27. JustSaying

    Mr.Toad, did you miss the point intentionally? Minors drinking is a big problem. Binge drinking is an aside, although every binge starts with a.01 at some point. The slippery slope, you know.

    This is a public safety issue. It is not the first step toward the Police State of Davis.

  28. David M. Greenwald

    “This is a public safety issue. It is not the first step toward the Police State of Davis.”

    In a lot of ways passing this might make things less and not more safe.

  29. Mr.Toad

    ” It is not the first step toward the Police State of Davis.”

    You are right about that. First there were restrictive covenants on deeds. Then came the repeated decisions over the years not to annex student housing into the city limiting student voting rights. Of course since the sixties the Davis Police and the UC Police have had mutual aid and crowd control / riot training. After that there was the noise ordinance, infiltration of student activist groups by university personnel, abusive tactics against nonviolent protesters, pepper spray and now this.

    If you don’t think students feel the boot on their necks you don’t talk to them much.

  30. medwoman

    Matt Williams

    “In a lot of ways passing this might make things less and not more safe.”

    I don’t know if these are any of the ways that David has in mind, but a few come to mind for me.
    1) If the police believe that this will be a commonly used ordnance, will it not draw police time away from potentially more serious infractions by the time necessary to request and either be allowed, or denied the ability to breathalyze their suspects? If they feel that it will be used rarely, then I fail to see it as having little effect and becomes just another useless rule.
    2) If students, while at a party, believe that they may not pass a test, may they not make the decision to stay at the party rather than risk going out, thus increasing their chances of having a more serious complication such as alcohol poisoning ?
    3) I am more concerned however, with the band aide phenomena. We decide to adopt this measure, and then think that we have actually done something about the problem, which is of course, that of underage drinking, not just being a nuisance on the street. This presumption of having “already addressed the issue” then makes us complacent and less likely to move forward on addressing the underlying public health issue in a more comprehensive way.
    4) I feel that this ordnance is more likely to foster less, rather than more respect for the police, in the student population. Again, why would anyone agree to do the test unless they knew that they would pass. Ordnances that cannot be enforced, or can be so easily sidestepped are more likely to engender feelings of empowerment for bad behavior than they are respect for the law.

    Having said all that, I have no objection to this as a short term pilot in case I am wrong. What I would like to have seen, and perhaps city staff and the council members have, is proof from the police that these “Internal possession”
    laws have been effective in the 14 states that have enacted them. A brief internet search yesterday did not provide any conclusive data, but I may have missed it. It just seems to me that if these laws had made a major impact on underage drinking, there might be more readily available supportive evidence since some of these laws including Maine’s have been around since 2001 thus giving adequate time for data collection.

  31. David M. Greenwald

    Medwoman’s point are good toward where I was going. My chief concern is that the point at which an underage drinker is most vulnerable to law enforcement is walking on the sidewalk in a public location. Are there safety concerns with walking while intoxicated – yes there are. But those risks are far less than the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated at any level of consumption. And I’m afraid this measure will encourage students to do that because they will deem it more difficult to spot them in a car and identify that (A) they are under age and (B) they are drinking.

  32. Matt Williams

    Thank you for your responses medwoman and David. Regarding medwoman’s first point, my personal hopes are that this is a very seldom used ordinance. I may be naive, but it appears to be directed at curbing noisy and/or rowdy parties (and their aftermath urinations). I don’t think there is any intent to intrude on the private consumption of alcohol, whether legal or illegal, in one’s own place of residence. Therefore the incidences of enforcement of private consumption should be very close to zero, with the one possible exception being a private drinking binge that results in a blaring stereo or other such noise issue. The real target is parties, and very specifically parties in the midst of neighborhood homes.

    David, do students typically walk to such parties or drive to them? What neighborhoods experience the most frequent such incidents? I would expect that the answer to the first question is “walk” because the answer to the second question is “neighborhoods very close to campus.” Do those answers ring true to you

  33. Matt Williams

    medwoman, regarding your third point, I really don’t think “the problem” is really underage drinking. That is clearly a legal issue, but I think the real problem is collective and individual behavior that compromises the safety and quality of life of the neighbors of the locations where the parties and drinking take place.

  34. medwoman

    Matt

    If indeed this ordnance is that narrowly directed, I would suggest an alternative approach used by the off campus, privately owned non Greek dorm in a Victorian era home where my son rents in Berkley. It is essentially a one strike and you are out policy written in to.the rental agreement. It basically states that any party not properly announced to the neighbors, or to which the police are called for noise or other disturbances will be the last party of that semester. This has been extremely effective because the returning students have seen it enforced and so proactively warn and enforce the rules on their peers in order to be able to continue to host parties. Talk about student proactive involvement !

  35. David M. Greenwald

    “David, do students typically walk to such parties or drive to them? What neighborhoods experience the most frequent such incidents? I would expect that the answer to the first question is “walk” because the answer to the second question is “neighborhoods very close to campus.” Do those answers ring true to you “

    I don’t know the answer. What I do know is drive down Russell late in the evening and you see long lines of processions of students walking to and from the core area. Where are they going? Some to bars in the downtown, some to the frats for parties, others are going to the areas along Sycamore where there are frequent parties.

    Elaine is always talking about unintended impacts – and there is always a potential problem with that in any public policy area and if you allow that to control you, you never make needed changes – however, in this case I think we really need to get a handle on the scope of the problem to begin with and what the collateral impact is going to be.

  36. JustSaying

    medwoman, what a great idea. If only the students would take on the responsibility. Until then, though….

    “In a lot of ways passing this might make things less and not more safe.”
    “Interesting comment David. Why do you think that may be the case?”

    David and medwoman have made these points before, Matt. They are such stretches that it’s difficult to understand why they are seriously offered.

    1.) Of course, an ordinance will not keep police from more serious business. Lots of professions use a triage approach. Police are not idiots just because they’re police. If it is used only from time to time, it’s not “one more useless rule,” by definition.

    2.) The idea that minors will make a conscious choice to keep drinking or jump in a car to challenge police on the roads and streets rather than deal with them on the sidewalks and yards BECAUSE of this ordinance mystifies me. Kids who consider this ordinance at all in making their choices are just as likely, maybe even more likely, to decide to follow the law in the first place because they know of this “tool.” Most likely minors who drink simply will not consider this ordinance at all. Kids are not idiots either, but they are kids.

    3.) No one has even suggested that this Bandaid should keep society from continuing to seek bigger solutions. It’s nonsense to think that the ordinance will trick us into thinking we’ve “already addressed the issue…of underage drinking.” Society isn’t just a big collection of idiots either. This is a small tool that our police feel will help with a public safety problem brought about by the very serious underage drinking problem. It’s not as though the bigger problem about which you’re concerned hasn’t been attacked for years–at least since we started sneaking beer to parties–and won’t get even more attention in the future.

    4.) Reasonable laws do not engender disrespect for police. Who are we talking about here? What kids would be offended by police exercising reasonable cause to enforce our laws? The ones who’ve broken laws and get caught? The ones who’ve done nothing wrong, but who’ve been courtesy talked to hardly will be offended by police operating under this ordinance.

    If maintaining respect for law enforcement truly is a concern, maybe we can stop teaching our children to “never, ever talk to a police officer.” In my opinion, that’s what this discussion really gets down to–framing an “us versus them” view of authority. To what purpose?

  37. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]It is essentially a one strike and you are out policy written in to.the rental agreement. It basically states that any party not properly announced to the neighbors, or to which the police are called for noise or other disturbances will be the last party of that semester. This has been extremely effective because the returning students have seen it enforced and so proactively warn and enforce the rules on their peers in order to be able to continue to host parties. Talk about student proactive involvement ![/quote]

    Good suggestion, but you have to get all landlords on board with it…

  38. Matt Williams

    David M. Greenwald said . . .

    [i]”What I do know is drive down Russell late in the evening and you see long lines of processions of students walking to and from the core area. Where are they going? Some to bars in the downtown, some to the frats for parties, others are going to the areas along Sycamore where there are frequent parties.”[/i]

    I’m woefully under informed on this issue, but my initial reaction to your answer is that long line processions to and from the core area is not a significant component of the problem that people are concerned about. Does patronizing a downtown business have a logical correlation to becoming a noise or urination nuisance? Are students in that procession likely to be underage? I could be wrong, but I think the answers to those two questions are “no” and “no.” If I were a policeman looking at that procession, my enforcement logic would be 1) if they are not causing a disturbance they are cool, and 2) the vast majority of anyone in that procession that I stop will not fall under the auspices of this proposed ordinance.

  39. Matt Williams

    E Roberts Musser said . . .

    [i]”Good suggestion, but you have to get all landlords on board with it…”[/i]

    Definitely a consideration, but with the very low apartment vacancy rates in Davis, I would expect that getting their agreement might not be a significant obstacle.

  40. Mr.Toad

    “That is clearly a legal issue, but I think the real problem is collective and individual behavior that compromises the safety and quality of life of the neighbors of the locations where the parties and drinking take place.”

    No shit Sherlock! I don’t claim to know the answer but I suspect getting to the students through the landlords is a more effective approach. Criminalizing the kids behavior of walking home after drinking too much or before completely sobering up is so off the charts oppressive I’m shocked that this is seriously being discussed as a solution.

  41. Matt Williams

    Mr.Toad, correct me if I am wrong, but this isn’t criminalizing the process of walking home, it is clarifying the enforcement procedures regarding the already criminal act of drinking while underage. Am I wrong?

  42. preston

    Technically a minor with a .01 BAC is in possession of alcohol and there is a law against that.
    The City is walking on thin ice with this one. I can see a civil suit happening real quick, “reverse age discrimination”.
    Personally I feel that underage consumption of alcohol is a problem, even more so in a college town, but I also feel that persecution for consumption unwarranted if the only laws being broken were for underage drinking. We can send them to die for our country, trust them to have a say in who our leaders are, but they can’t legally enjoy a drink. That is wrong.
    My solution?
    Raise the voting and draft age to 21. That would be fair, right?1?

  43. medwoman

    “Raise the voting and draft age to 21. That would be fair, right?1?”

    I am in complete agreement with this suggestion. I find it the height of hyppocrisy that we are willing to send men and women under the age of 21
    Into co bat situations but do not allow them to drink alcohol. The emerging field of adolescent neuroscience would strongly suggest that adolescents do not have the neurological maturity to handle either their liquor or lethat weapons responsibly.

  44. medwoman

    JustSaying

    “They are such stretches that it’s difficult to understand why they are seriously offered. “

    I disagree that any of these is much of a stretch.
    Did you never go to a party, decide that you had had too much to drink and that the best course of action was to “sleep it off”. While this may be the best available course of action if you are a guy, it is an invitation to a sexual assault for a young woman ? How do I know ? 25 years of experience as a gynecologist dealing with the aftermath of too much alcohol lowering inhibitions. I would much rather see a girl leave a party before she has taken that last drink without having to worry if she will be found to have ” internal possession”.

    It is not implying police stupidity to understand that any triage system can be stretched too thin. All it takes is one particularly busy night on an ER shift to understand this principle. If our police are indeed “stretched too thin” as some on this blog have previously suggested, is this really the best use of their time ?

    “Most likely minors who drink simply will not consider this ordnance at all. Well, we have one point of agreement. But to me, this completely eviscerates any deterrence value and makes this a purely punitive rather than a preventive measure when what is needed is the latter.

    “No one has ever suggested……” Just because no one has suggested it does not mean that that may not be an unintended consequence. Part of human nature is a tendency to propose a solution to a problem and then sit back on our laurels. We have a tendency to pass laws and then take forever to recognize the unintended consequences. Again, if internal possession laws have proved successful, where is the data supporting this from the states where they have been in place for the past 5-10 years ?

    “Reasonable laws do not engender disrespect for the police. Agreed, but the problem is that there is not unanimity in what is “reasonable”.
    I certainly did not feel that it was reasonable when as the passenger in a car where the driver had already passed the field sobriety test and two
    consecutive breathylizer tests, the police, clearly not believing my true statement that I had had one drink four hours earlier, requested that I also complete not one, but two breatylizer tests. I am sure the police believed their actions were ” reasonable” I most certainly did not and can guarantee you that this did not increase my respect for or trust in the police. I complied, but only so I could put an end to this ridiculous charade and go home. We cannot even agree on this blog about what is reasonable. Do you really believe that the police and the students will share the same definition of that term ?

    If maintaining respect for police is truly a concern…..
    If maintaining respect for police is truly a concern, maybe what we should do is to make it illegal for police to lie to suspects to attempt to get them to incriminate themselves. Do you ever really regain the same degree of trust in someone once you know they have lied to you ? Until the police are not allowed to lie and entrap ( the very embodiment of ‘them vs us’ ) my advice to my kids and anyone else who asks is to never, ever talk to the police without a lawyer present.

  45. JustSaying

    medwoman, sorry about your “bad stop” experience with the police. It may be I’ll never be able to have you see my point of view once you’ve been through that kind of ordeal. But…

    1. What young woman knowingly will fear “internal possession” more than “internal penetration”? This doesn’t make sense to me, but we sort of agree that this new ordinance won’t be on young peoples’ minds anyway.

    2. Why would police spend time stopping minors wandering down the sidewalk when the bank is being robbed any more than doctors would stop treating car wreck victims if someone comes to the ER presenting symptoms of a cold? Of course, [u]everyone[/u] is “spread too thin.” But, doctors and police have developed very refined triage systems; our police chief explained this during the discussion about expanding the Picnic Day boundaries.

    3. Our agreed-to (point that most kids won’t even be aware of this ordinance when they decide what to do at a party) doesn’t mean that none would know about this enforcement tool and decide not to drink. But, it’s not being offered for its “deterrence value”–and it doesn’t follow that it, therefore, becomes a “purely punitive” measure. The purpose is to help our police prevent problems by allowing them to evaluate minors the same way they already evaluate the rest of us. The ordinance is an investigative tool, not a punishment.

    4. It’s not unreasonable laws that you describe, but unreasonable actions by the police. My own experience with police behavior is different. An early morning stop near the post office made me nervous. “Are your lights turned on?” “Yes, sir,” I said, before realizing she was wearing a bullet-proof vest (and figuring that, now, I [u]really[/u] was in trouble), “They come on automatically.” After providing a lesson in how my new car worked (taillights required turning on the light switch), she sent me on my way.

    I covered state and local police for a daily newspaper for more than five years. Almost every one I met was courteous, respectful, highly trained and concerned about doing a good job. While they almost never get hurt except in traffic and home accidents (the force is with them), they’re trained to think “Topete” whenever they stop some one. I saw one through the ER window puff on his last cigarette, thanks to a 1960’s Topete. I knew two who shot themselves, (partly?) because of the daily stress of their jobs.

    To assume that every new ordinance will bring police harassment to our town is a little too much for me to accept without comment, given my own exposure to hundreds of law enforcement officers.

    5.) The “lying to people” argument is off-topic, but a fascinating diversion indeed. I agree guilty people need to lawyer up before they say a word to investigators or even police on the scene. Training innocent people (also called “witnesses” or “not involved”) to never, ever talk to police without a lawyer does our society a terrible disservice. It breeds distrust for the wrong people in the bigger picture and helps keep the guilty from justice in the crime being investigated.

    One just has to watch a few cop shows to see why lying to suspects isn’t as bad as it sounds. So, you’ve got your serial killer being questioned, refusing to admit the crimes, when investigators lie, saying they’ve got proof positive.

    The perp caves, leads police to three bodies and the weapons used to kill and the list and photos of the seven additional names that were to be the next targeted victims.

    Now, investigators have the forensic evidence needed to convince the jury beyond reasonable doubt of the true killer’s guilt. They lied; no one else died. Yet, folks should be whining that the interrogation was somehow “wrong” or not fair.

    An aside: How much justice would have happened if the serial killer had gotten a lawyer before confessing? And, how would that have helped engender respect for the police–particularly when the next round of folks got killed?

    It’s the human condition to keep lying, however guilty we are, until we’re found out. If we [u]think[/u] we’ve been found out, the same purposes are served. We confess and get to move on to the “closure” we so much need when we’ve done something bad and lied about it.

    (This justification for official lying has nothing to do with false confessions. Convicting someone requires additional proof, the kind that follows a true confession.)

  46. jimt

    I’m with Toad on this issue, which is rare for me!
    The new alcohol ordinance seems like overkill; methinks it may create more problems than it solves.
    College life is much more regimented these days than it was a few decades ago; let the kids blow off steam; if there are serious problems than step-up enforcement of existing laws and ordinances.
    I wonder who dreamed up and spearheaded this proposed alcohol ordinance; was it indeed the new police chief?
    Who and what influenced him to propose this? The new police chief strikes me as another ambitious technocrat; it the mold of so many of our business and political leaders these days (sigh)–I wonder if he has political ambitions? Not to denigrate him; I’m just trying to understand what is going on here.

  47. medwoman

    JustSaying

    1. I would agree with you if young women had an appropriate perception that “internal penetration” is a potential
    outcome. Unfortunately in my experience over the years in treating literally hundreds of young women whose
    excessive alcohol intake has led them into sexual misadventures including assaults, these usually occur at the
    site of a party, are perpetrated by someone the girl knows and trusts, and occur when her inhibitions are way
    down. My preference would not be to put in obstacles in the way of her leaving a party in which she had been
    drinking as soon as possible.
    2. Of course police would not choose to be evaluating kids on the street for internal possession while a bank
    robbery is occurring. The point is delay in response caused by being involved in something less critical when
    something more serious occurs. And despite triage protocols, I have seen this happen in the medical setting.
    3. By citing the success of the open container ordinance and the smoking ordinance, Chief Black did seem to be
    extending the purpose to deterrence of undesired behavior. And I have to take strong exception to your
    comment that the ordinance is not punitive. Do you really believe that a cost of $240.00 is not punitive ?
    4. I make no claim with regard to harassment, and I am not against every ordinance. My main objections to this
    particular ordinance are 1. The lack of an evidence based format for the proposal – appeals to authority do not
    carry much weight with me. 2. The lack of definition of reasonable cause 3. The “voluntary” nature of the test
    which I think is highly questionable ( if a person were not intimidated, why in the world would you agree to the
    test if you had been drinking ? If you hadn’t perhaps you would see it as harassment as I did. 4. The lack of
    deterrence value which from my point of view would be far more important than a ‘catch and charge’ approach.
    5. The reactive rather than proactive approach. 6. I see it as part of a piecemeal approach rather than part of
    a comprehensive solution.
    5. Finally, I think we will just have to disagree about speaking to the police without benefit of a lawyer. This might
    be reasonable if people were never convicted of crimes they had not committed, which we know is not true, and
    if police were not allowed to lie in order to get people to say what they hope they will say, which we also know is
    not true. From my point of view, the world is not divided into good guys and bad guys depending on whether
    one is a policeman or a citizen. Taking your own analogy about cop shows, there are many shows in which the
    cops, or at least some of them are “bad guys”. My feeling is that people are imperfect. That applies whether or
    not you have taken an oath and wear a uniform. It is my belief that lying would only be acceptable under one
    circumstance, the immediate protection of ones self or someone else. All other lying is wrong and can only
    promote distrust. Not exactly what we want to foster between the police and those they are supposed to
    protect.

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