UPD abuses its power

Too often students are being pulled over by the University Police Department. Everyone has had at least one encounter with the UPD during their tenure here at SHSU. No matter what kind of meeting you had with UPD, it probably was not a pleasurable experience. Most Bearkats would say the only offenses they care about are driving under the influence of alcohol violations. Take a drive down University Street during the day and you would maybe see one cop, but if you retrace your steps at night, you would reveal a whole different story. They appear out of nowhere and pull students over for the most ridiculous reasons. It doesn’t matter what you get pulled over for because the first question out of their mouth is, “Have you been drinking?” I understand this is a college town and many people like to consume alcohol and some of those unfortunately get behind the wheel after a few drinks. That does not mean that every single person on the road at midnight is a raging alcoholic and is entirely too drunk to be alive. I know they are just doing their part to protect us, but they are also causing us great inconvenience by neglecting probable cause in the process. Gerald D. Robin, author of “Introduction To The Criminal Justice System”, defines probable cause as reasonable grounds to believe that a felony was committed and that the person arrested is the felon. Basically, the interpretation of this rule gives determining of probable cause to the officers who are there at the time. With such a vague rule, who is to say university officers do not abuse their privileges and take advantage of college students who are unaware of their rights? UPD uses any excuse to get you out of your car and embarrass you by making you take one of its sobriety tests. I speak from experience because I was pulled over and told, “You have a white light emitting from your brake light.” I was given a sobriety test on the side of the road because of “my little white light”, not because of the way I was driving, and there are many other students like me who have gone through the same ridiculous negligence of probable cause from UPD. Other Sam Houston students have also been the victims of the UPD not giving probable cause and are entirely fed up with UPD’s actions. Sam Varner, a junior, explains, “I once was pulled over and given a sobriety test because I stopped too close to a cross-walk. Not on the cross-walk; just ‘too close’ to it.” Dana Wilson, a sophomore, is also upset with the way she was treated. “I was pulled over for going two miles over the speed limit and given a sobriety test to see if I was drunk.”Despite being “by the book” reasons to pull someone over, these are not excuses to pull students out of their vehicles and give them sobriety tests. These examples make it look as if the UPD is out to get students. Of course, we as students think that is because they are the enemy, but that is clearly for you to decide. Everyone has their own opinion. It is hard to argue with the University Police Department because it is a student’s word against an officer’s word. In a court of law we would obviously lose, but with evidence like this, how can anyone not argue that the University Police Department is abusing their power and neglecting probable cause? Despite trying to hear what the officers had to say on this issue and after calling Lt. John Dean of the University Police Department on three separate occasions, I received no response. However, officers would try to argue that if we didn’t have anything to hide, then we would not have to worry, but don’t you think that if we were driving somewhere, we would obviously have somewhere to be? Not that being pulled over is the most dreaded experience. It is just embarrassing and time consuming. Everyone that drives by sees you standing there with those lights flashing and thinks to themselves, “Wonder what they got themselves into tonight?” And you will be at least 20 minutes late to wherever you were going. Is the UPD making our environment better or becoming a nuisance to our society? One thing is clear: UPD is abusing its power and neglecting probable cause. UPD needs to treat students with more respect and understand not every college student drinks and drives. If students are being continuously pulled over for ridiculous offenses, it will only leave us remembering you can’t spell stupid without UPD.

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