Nichols: University police have valuable functions, keep order


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

A Wisconsin police officer stands outside of a capitol building door on Monday, Feb 21, to keep people from entering emergency exit only doors as they march past. The protesters often thanked the officers for doing their job.

Ian Nichols

What are some things that you hear about university police? They aren’t real cops, they couldn’t make the regular force or they are just robot cops. They do so much more than that to help our campus. The combination of the parking division and police force do so much more than just annoy all students with parking tickets.

If you get a flat tire, they will come help, free of charge. If you break down, they will come and take you to a service station, free of charge. If you lock your keys in your car, they will come and pick the lock to let you in, free of charge. If it is late out and you don’t feel comfortable walking home, then you can call for a safety escort and they will give you a ride home, free of charge.

The police force does the exact same duties as normal police, just on a smaller scale. These are just a few small things that the university police do to help us out, not to mention they protect us and keep order on campus.

It seems that, in today’s society, if the police are doing their job by enforcing the law in any way, it always turns into them abusing power. If you get arrested for public intoxication, it’s the police’s fault that they were singling you out. If you get a parking ticket, the parking police are jerks. If you get a speeding ticket, you think it is just the police meeting their quota.

All people whose job it is to discipline have to walk a tightrope. Unfortunately, there are a few cases of police officers abusing their power. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. But how many of these “mistakes” are actually errors rather than just someone being upset that they got in trouble?

Now, what if you’re stopped by the police? What’s the best way to handle a situation like this? The main thing is to remain calm and cooperate, especially when it comes to being stopped for suspicion of drinking. If you begin to get defensive in any way, police will get suspicious. Iowa Code section 123.46 prohibits an individual from being intoxicated, or simulating intoxication, in a public place. If you are suspected of this, you will be arrested for public intoxication.

How do police determine if you are drunk just by appearance? Police use four basic observations to determine if you need to be questioned: first, if reason or mental ability has been affected; second, judgment is impaired; third, emotions are visibly excited; and fourth, has, to any extent, lost control of bodily actions or motions.

Now, if you ever get stopped and did nothing wrong, use your knowledge of the law and common sense to keep out of trouble. There are rights that everyone has. One of those rights are refusal of a breath test and to take an independent test instead. You have the right to say no to anything when you believe a police officer is violating your rights.

At the same time, it is best to always cooperate and remain calm. If you remain respectful and cooperative, even while exercising your rights, you can avoid major trouble. Rights are there to keep government officials in check and to make sure they don’t abuse their power.