Safety is one of the first things we learn.
Fasten your seatbelt. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t talk to strangers.
People who care about us teach us safe practices, because they don’t want to see us get hurt. And we obey what they say, because we know our caregivers are looking out for our best interest.
But we don’t just learn safety from our parents when we’re toddlers – growing up has us constantly facing new challenges.
Now that we’re adults, we must watch out for ourselves, but it’s the job of the police to keep us safe. And generally, they do an OK job.
A Bradley policeman once stopped me when I was walking home alone and asked me if I was alright. He didn’t ask me where I was coming from or inch close to see if there was alcohol on my breath – he was just looking out for my wellbeing, wanting to know if I needed a ride.
Actions like this are what strengthen the Bradley community. If I feel like people are looking out for my best interest, I’ll respect their rules. Who wants to disappoint someone who genuinely cares about them?
This type of respect is what’s missing in Bradley’s relationship with Campus/TAP.
The weekend before Thanksgiving break, task force ticketed 61 partygoers at an off-campus house.
Excuse me, moreso, ruthlessly ticketed.
Nine of those ticketed were 21 or older. Some blew a 0.0 on their Breathalyzer tests. But it didn’t matter – task force didn’t care. Everyone received tickets.
If task force was trying to teach us that underage drinking wasn’t safe, they wouldn’t punish those who were making the party safe.
Mike Green, a lecturer who gave several alcohol-related speeches on campus earlier this year, is one of the most respected alcohol speakers in the country. His speech is all about having spotters – sober people who look out for their peers at a party.
Green is a successful speaker because what he talks about works. Drinking is inevitable, but it’s inevitably safer if there are spotters at the party to keep a watchful eye.
If spotters are ticketed equally to their underage-drinking peers, spotters will stop going to parties, and they will become less safe.
Ticketing nine students 21 or older for being in the presence of underage drinking at $250 each, and 52 students for underage drinking or being underage and in the presence of alcohol at $375 each, allowed the police to walk out of this party $21,750 richer.
Not to mention, they also ticketed students at other locations that same night.
Another lesson I learned in my youth – money isn’t everything.
There’s a point when morals and common sense need to come into play. The point for Campus/TAP should have been when partygoers blew a 0.0.
Being in the presence of underage drinking is illegal, but there are lots of laws that just don’t make sense. For example, in the city of Peoria, it’s illegal to have a basketball hoop installed in your driveway.
The Illinois State Police, aka task force, lists three visions on its Web site.
It says “Integrity – trust and dependability to act responsibly. Service – contribute to the welfare of others. Pride – respect for self, others and the organization.”
I don’t see any of these values from the task force. I see the opposite – I don’t trust that I’m being protected when they’re out hunting for money, I don’t feel like I’m being served when they’re letting other crimes occur on the streets because they can make money from handing out drinking tickets and I don’t see how anyone could be proud for ticketing someone who is trying to make sure a party is safe.
Police are needed. But what’s equally needed is a level of respect between police and us – the people they serve, the people who pay them.
Right now, that level isn’t there, and we need it to be. They need to show respect to the students who are making the right choices at parties.
If the state police made an effort to show they were genuinely trying to protect the citizens they serve, people would be more likely to respect their rules and service.
If task force wants to curb underage drinking, they need to make an effort that is a little more selfless. Then maybe I’d have the same respect for them as I do the Bradley policeman who just wanted to know if I was OK, the one who was truly doing his job.
Emily Regenold is a junior journalism major from Cincinnati. She is the Scout news editor.
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