Frequently Asked Student Questions of the Police
Revised on February 9, 2006
This list of questions was created by the members of the Police-Student Relations Sub-Committee. The questions were submitted to both police departments. Their answers are stated below.
1. What is the typical procedure used by the Police Department when approaching a student party?
Davis PD: Let's start with the assumption that the officer is there because of a complaint about the noise from the party. The noise ordinance says that it is unlawful to willfully make or continue, or cause to be made or continued, any noise which unreasonably disturbs the peace of the neighborhood. The ordinance says that it is a violation if there is one complaint, and independent corroboration from a police department employee, or three distinct complaints from two affected premises. This means that in most cases the officer initially is there to corroborate the "unreasonable" noise which was reported by the person who complained. The criteria for this include: (24.05.010 Municipal code)
- The loudness (intensity) of the sound
- The pitch (frequency) of the sound (low bass or high screeching)
- The duration of the sound
- The time of day
- The necessity of the noise (e.g. garbage collecting)
- Background noise
If there is a valid complaint and the officer corroborates that the noise is unreasonable, a citation is generally issued for the violation.
UCD PD: Generally, the police are called to the party due to a noise complaint, fights, or some other reason. More than one officer responds to ensure safety. We meet with the responsible host for the party and weigh options to deal with the issues that exist.
2. What should we do if a police officer arrives at our event?
Davis PD: Let the officer listen to the noise and determine if it is a violation. They will then be happy to contact the people in charge of the event and discuss the issue with them.
UCD PD: Cooperate with the officers. The responsible host for the party should meet with the officer to alleviate the complaint. Generally, the host tries to hide or close the door which then forces the officer to take measures that are not liked by the host or party-goer.
3. I heard we can we just close the door and ignore the police. Is that correct?
Davis PD: As with any violation of the law, it is unlikely to "just go away" if you ignore it. It forces us to change our approach to the situation, as it clearly shows that there is no desire to cooperate in a solution to the complaint.
From a legal perspective, it greatly escalates the situation. We would probably obtain warrants for the arrest of the persons responsible for the noise, which means we would have authority to enter to arrest them, and they would end up in jail as opposed to just receiving a citation. Also, the actions of closing the door and ignoring the police would likely be considered "resisting, delaying or obstructing" the police, which is a more severe crime than the original noise violation.
We would also take steps to ensure that this situation did not occur again, such as contacting landlords, or referring the matter to Student Judicial Affairs for action.
UCD PD: No. We will not go away. Someone has called us to report a disturbance, and we provide the complainant with service in the form of resolution of the problem. It is best to come out and talk with the officers.
4. Who do the police hold responsible for the party?
Davis PD: The ordinance specifies that the responsible person would be any person who makes or causes to make unreasonable noise. That would mean it includes those who allow their property to be used for a loud party, as well as those actually causing the noise, (loud partiers, band members, DJ's etc.) Most often we only cite the person who is "in charge" of the party, as this usually brings the party back to more reasonable noise levels. In more extreme cases we have had to issue citations to people at the party who were involved in creating the problem.
UCD PD: The host of the party will be held responsible. If we are unable to find the actual host, the owner of the home or anyone on the lease may be held responsible.
5. Why do sometimes a large number of police officers arrive at a party, when only 1 or 2 would suffice?
Davis PD: The number of officers sent to the party depends on the information available to us about the party. If the caller describes the noise as coming from a fight or argument, we automatically send additional officers to the scene. We also might send additional officers if the party is extremely large, there seem to be a lot of intoxicated people, or there are other violations of law occurring.
UCD PD: The number of officers varies with the type of call, the number of party goers, whether fighting is occurring, etc.
6. Am I allowed to argue with the officer?
Davis PD: Rather than "argue" let's use the word "discuss". Yes, you are allowed to discuss the problem with the officer. The officer will be happy to explain the ordinance and his/her observations with you. But please keep in mind that the officers do not have the time or ability to discuss it with everyone at the party, and the officer may choose not to discuss the situation with intoxicated or difficult people, as that is generally unproductive.
UCD PD: Arguing with the officer is not going to get anyone anywhere. The officer is there to do a job. This includes answering questions. If a citation is issued the best placed to argue the point is in court.
7. What if my roommate throws a party and I answer the door?
Davis PD: Regardless of who answers the door, it is our goal to contact the person most responsible for the party. If any enforcement action needs to be taken, it begins with that person.
Sometimes no one will take responsibility for the party. That makes it impossible for us to resolve the problem with just one person, so citations could be issued to anyone who is causing or allowing the noise to continue.
UCD PD: We will ask for the host and those that live there, and work with everyone to resolve the issue.
8. If we agree to quiet down can the party continue?
Davis PD: In most circumstances you can continue the party, but you should be aware that if new complaints are made about the noise, we would respond again and if appropriate issue more citations. Also, the ordinance provides more severe consequences for repeat problems, including upgrading the offense to a misdemeanor if there are three or more violations within a year.
UCD PD: It depends on the situation, but this is an option.
9. What if the police find a minor in possession of alcohol at my party? Who is a minor?
Davis PD: California law says that it is illegal for a minor to be in possession of alcohol in any public place or place open to the public. We would cite or arrest any minors in violation of this law.
California law also says that it is illegal to sell, furnish or give away or cause to sell, furnish or give away alcohol to any minor. If you have a party with alcohol, and don't take steps to prevent minors from obtaining alcohol, you could be in violation of this. If the minor obtains alcohol and then causes death or great bodily injury to themselves or another, you would also be held responsible for that.
UCD PD: A minor is anyone under the age of 21. The minor and the host may both receive citations.
10. Am I responsible for people who leave my party inebriated?
Davis PD: Generally, you are not responsible for them from the legal perspective. However, you are probably aware that we have a host of problems resulting from inebriated people leaving parties, including issues like DUIs, violent behavior, sexual assaults and alcohol overdoses. So it is important to be responsible about serving alcohol to ensure the safety of your friends.
UCD PD: Generally, those that leave inebriated are responsible for themselves. The host may be held responsible if someone becomes severely ill from alcohol poisoning, if a minor is served there, or if someone is injured as a result of the hosts negligence.
11. If police respond to a party can they enter my house without permission?
Davis PD: It depends on the reason we responded to the party. For instance, if the call was of a fight or injured person inside, or there is an alcohol overdose, or some other exigent circumstance, we would enter to deal with that problem. If the call was simply about loud noise then we would probably have no legal basis or desire to enter the house.
UCD PD: If the police see that a crime is being committed in their presence the officers may enter the house to "freeze the scene" and obtain a warrant to search. For party issues, this will generally not occur.
12. If police respond to my party does that mean a complaint has been phoned in?
Davis PD: We don't respond to noise violations unless someone has called us and wished to complain about the noise.
We do contact parties where it appears there are other problems (minors drinking, fights, traffic issues) and try to head off any problems. Even then we don't take action on the noise unless there is a complaint.
UCD PD: Yes.
13. What if we have a party and it gets out of control. Can we call the police for help?
Davis PD: Absolutely. Please call us when the problem is small before it gets out of hand and is more difficult to control, or someone gets hurt.
UCD PD: Yes. It is encouraged. Officers can direct partygoers to leave and assist with traffic control. They can also handle inebriated guests who become a problem for you.
14. If we notify the police about an event we are having does that mean they will know about it and break it up sooner?
What is the benefit to letting police know we're going to have a party?
Davis PD: If you talk to us in advance, we can often give you some tips which might prevent problems at the party.
UCD PD: The benefit is to obtain the proper permits for the party. This allows us to advise complainants that the party has been approved and will shut down at a certain time. This also gives us a contact person we can work with if complaints come in. We won't break it up before the agreed upon time unless problems arise.
15. When officers tell us to clear a party in 3 minutes, aren't they encouraging driving while intoxicated?
Can people stay at the party location until they are sober enough to drive?
Davis PD: You may allow people to remain at your party, but you are accepting responsibility for the noise which they might make.
To answer the other half of your question, let's do the "DUI math". The average DUI driver we arrest has a blood alcohol level of about .14%. Since you can only reduce your blood alcohol level by .015-.020% per hour, it takes 3-4 hours for this same person to reduce their blood alcohol level just to the .08% "presumptive level" for driving.(California law says you may be arrested with a blood alcohol level as low as .05%).
What this points out is that allowing people to remain for a relatively short amount of time is not going to make them sober enough to drive. That's why we would hope that partiers would be planning ahead to utilize options like designated drivers, Tipsy Taxi or calling a cab.
UCD PD: No. We are not encouraging people to drive drunk. Just because we are closing the party does not mean they have to drive away. Cabs, Tipsy Taxi and friends may be called to help someone get home safely.
16. Do police officers cruise around looking for parties?
Davis PD: We don't cruise around looking for noise violations, as we only respond to them after a complaint. As officers patrol their assigned sector of the city, they might notice a party which has other issues or violations of law, and could take action on them.
UCD PD: We may be aware that a party is happening, but unless there are violations or a call regarding the party is received, we generally stay away.
17. What happens when I get a noise violation?
Davis PD: If you are issued a citation for a noise violation, you would have to either appear in court as directed by the citation, or you could pay a fine.
UCD PD: The UC Davis Police do not give out noise violation citations. However, we may issue a citation for disturbing the peace, which is a misdemeanor. This requires a court date be set and a later trial, if the charges are contested.
18. What is the penalty for a noise violation?
Davis PD: The penalty for a first offense is usually a fine of less than $150. If any person violates the ordinance three times within a one-year period, the offense becomes a misdemeanor, with a maximum of 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine.
UCD PD: Refer to Davis PD.
19. Why do the police give out multiple noise tickets at once?
Davis PD: This could be for a variety of reasons. For example, if the noisy people are standing on the sidewalk or walking down the street, there is no single person who can be deemed "responsible" for the noise, and enforcement would have to target the individuals. The same might apply if we responded to a party and no one wished to admit they were the responsible for the party.
UCD PD: Refer to Davis PD.
20. What if I believe a neighbor is simply harassing me by phoning in complaints?
Davis PD: The easy answer is that there must be substance to the person's complaint before we will take any action. So if the noise is not unreasonable we would not be enforcing the ordinance.
If you think someone is harassing you by complaining to us, please let us know. There are alternatives like utilizing the City Mediation service, which might be able to achieve a resolution between the two of you. Also, if we can prove that the complaints are false, we might prosecute the person for filing a false police report.
UCD PD: This is a good opportunity to talk to your neighbor and alleviate the situation. If the neighbor calls and we respond to find violations then we will deal with the violation issues with you. Officers are trained to mediate between parties to reach permanent solutions.
21. How can I get to know the police office assigned to my neighborhood?
Davis PD: Check our website at http://www.city.davis.ca.us/police/. Look under "patrol division" and click on "contact your sector officer". You can find out who is currently assigned to your area and e-mail them.
Or, if you see an officer and they are not busy, ask them if they work your area. They're always glad to meet you and answer any questions you might have.
UCD PD: The UC Davis Police Department does not assign officers to a certain area. You can contact the UC Davis Police Crime Prevention Unit and request an officer meet with you to talk about any concerns you have.
At any time, you may approach any officer and ask questions.
22. If the police find illegal drugs at my residence that someone else brought in will they cite me?
Davis PD: Under the law we would have to show that anyone arrested for the drugs "possessed" them, which is a very complicated legal issue. If we had cause to believe any person was in possession of the drugs we would arrest them.
This points out why it is very important to limit parties to people you know and can trust.
UCD PD: This depends on the totality of the circumstances. There is no one answer.
23. Does a citation give me a criminal record?
Davis PD: A citation for a noise violation is the same level as a traffic ticket. That is not generally considered to be a criminal record.
UCD PD: This depends on the type of the citation. There is not a criminal record generated for a noise complaint but there may be one for disturbing the peace.
24. What should I do if I think a police offer has treated me rudely or unfairly?
Davis PD: You can call the police department, and ask to speak to the watch commander, who is the supervisor of the shift. They can listen to you and answer any questions about what happened, and help resolve any misunderstandings. They can also provide feedback to the officer.
UCD PD: You may ask to speak with a supervisor at any time or you may file a complaint with the department in person or on line. Complaint forms are readily available throughout campus and at the Department.
25. How do I file a complaint against a police officer?
Davis PD: Contact the police department, and the watch commander can help you with filing a complaint.
UCD PD: Commendations and complaints may be filed by completing the UC Davis Police Department form, which can be printed from our Website (http://police.ucdavis.edu) or obtained at a number of locations around campus. Any officer can provide you with this form, as they all carry commendation/complaint forms in their squad cars.
Questions Answered by: UCD Police Department: Cpt. Leslie Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Davis-UCD Student Liaison Commission's Police-Student Relations Sub-Committee
Thank you to the following individuals for their contribution in improving relations between students and the police departments:
- Thomas Aguilar, email@example.com, Graduate Student Association External Affairs Chair
- Tanya Bermudez, firstname.lastname@example.org, ASUCD External Affairs, Student-Police Relation Committee
- Paul Cody, email@example.com, Assistant Director, Student Programs & Activities Center
- Sgt. Paul Doroshov, PDoroshov@ci.davis.ca.us, Davis Police Department
- Michelle Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org, Health Promotion Supervisor, Cowell Student Health Center
- Norb Kumagai, email@example.com, Public-at-Large
- Lt. Darren Pytel, DPytel@ci.davis.ca.us, Davis Police Department
- Gregory Russell, firstname.lastname@example.org, ASUCD Director of Local/County Affairs
- Gary Sandy, email@example.com, Director, Local Government Relations, Government & Community Relations
- City Councilmember Don Saylor, firstname.lastname@example.org, City of Davis
- Chief Annette Spicuzza, email@example.com, UC Davis Police Department
- Steven Worker, firstname.lastname@example.org, Public-at-Large