While many college students make plans for their weekends, many police officers find themselves unsure of how their Friday night of work will be, or who they will encounter. Hours into his shift, Sgt. Paris spotted two people walking on South Campus, one carrying a container.
“From [my] experience” many people put alcohol into a non-alcoholic container as it is “easy to mix with alcohol.”
Paris wanted to stop the two persons to make a “simple contact” with them as the container “raised [his] suspicion” that it was mixed with alcohol.
Paris parked his patrol car, and then began walking in the direction the two persons were heading. Paris had visible sight of them for a second time. The two persons, walking by the front doors to the apartments, suddenly turned and walked in the direction they had come from.
Paris became more suspicious as the two persons had not knocked at an apartment before they turned to leave.
Suspecting they may have been getting rid of something, he told them to stop where they were. Disregarding the request, they continued to walk down the ramp near an apartment complex. Paris briefly lost sight of the two persons as they rounded the corner.
As Paris ran to catch up with them, he again asked them to stop. Now neither person was holding the container. As he walked towards the two persons who had stopped, he used his flashlight to glance over the snow, looking for the container.
At the same time, Paris noticed one person keeping their hands near their waistline. Paris said it is possible that some people will hide something in their pants.
Upon reaching them, he saw no signs of the container or any patches of snow that would have noticeable marks of having the bottle hidden underneath.
Paris asked them for their IDs and then asked where they discarded the container. One person, who denied having a container throughout the interaction, put their hands up in a defensive motion. From Paris’ experience, this is not a “normal reaction” for a person who is not hiding anything.
The same person asked the officer to not touch him. At this point the officer had only asked for identification of the persons.
When asked why he needed to see their IDs, Paris informed them that as a police officer he can stop anyone on the campus and ask for their IDs. He also explained that they were carrying a container that he no longer saw, and suspected they had discarded the beverage as it may have contained alcohol.
The first person he received the ID from insisted they should not be stopped as they personally have been given so many awards from the university and had “built things on this campus.”
Sergeant Paris later said, “Until we ID them, we don’t know if they’re our students.”
Paris asked this person to face a nearby building so he could pat them down. Refusing to turn around as Paris begin to pat him down, they told him to stop touching them.
Police officers are allowed to pat down a person to feel for weapons. If it is not suspected to be a weapon or anything that could be used as a weapon, the police do not empty a person’s pockets. This is done for the safety of the police officer.
The person was uncooperative and began to verbally argue with the police officer. Now for the safety of the officer and others near the scene, Paris put handcuffs on the person, telling them that they were “being detained.”
By detaining a person, this will prevent him or her from making aggressive movements. With their hands cuffed behind their back, this limits such movements.
This person was not under arrest for the suspicion of alcohol. “Reasonable suspicion” is not enough “probable cause” to make an arrest.
Putting handcuffs on the person allows for the officer to be in “control of the situation.” This is a form of safety for the police officers and for the safety of the persons in handcuffs. This control prevents not letting the situation “escalate.”
Paris continued to feel their pockets. The second person stood quietly to the side, holding their ID in hand. This person, Paris told them, was the one seen allegedly carrying a container. They too denied having a container. Paris patted the second person down as well.
The detainment of the first person allowed Paris to check their IDs to “find out who they are.” He asked them if they had any “contact” with him in the past. The one person in handcuffs said yes, however did not mention what the previous contact was about. Paris did not recognize either person.
After both persons denied carrying a container, Paris took the handcuffs off of the first person and handed their IDs back. They claimed they were on their way to attend a “Sykes After Dark” entertainment. It is an event that is designed to give students a place to go which is not surrounded by alcohol or drugs. Paris let them go on their way to the event.
For Public Safety police officers, having “reasonable suspicion” they may make a “simple contact” with persons carrying a container they suspect contains alcohol.
“Since alcohol is not allowed on campus” the officers can ask what is in a container.
From the contact with the two persons, Paris said the container could have been a plain drink.
Typically if a drink is plain, it will be in a plain container.
“We don’t know without asking” what is in the container. The drink could have been non-alcoholic and the police would let the persons “go on their way.”
Paris checked with dispatch, the names of the two he had stopped. The person in “contact” with Paris before, has a marijuana drug charge from 2007. Paris was the arresting officer. The person has a second charge of theft in 2008 for failing to pay Dynamic on a monthly payment plan for textbooks. In the end, they did make the payments.
After watching them leave the scene, Paris walked on the pathway between the buildings he had seen the two persons walk down.
Starting at the point he could no longer see the two people, he knew the container had to be somewhere from that point until the point he saw them at the bottom of the ramp.
Paris began searching at that spot as he first had suspected the persons were attempting to hide something by discarding the container near the apartment buildings.
Searching the walking path and under staircases, the officer again used his flashlight to find the container.
Paris then scoured the snow on either side of the ramp, stopping about halfway down. He held his flashlight in place, to one side of a bush. He could see the container the two persons had in their possession upon his first sight of them.
Jumping the fence on the ramp, Paris retrieved the bottle, which was three-quarters full. He took the cap off and smelled the liquid: A p?na colada mix. Paris disposed of the liquid.
Public Safety officers confiscate alcohol to be photographed for documentation in the written report.
Any open containers are disposed of by dumping the liquid at the “crime scene.” Unopened bottles, after being photographed, are “destroyed” by the officers as they discard the alcohol contents.
Later that night around 2 a.m., Paris was informed he had a complaint called in earlier in the night. Of the two people he stopped for suspecting they had alcohol in a container, one of the them filed a complaint against him sometime after he had let the two go on their way to “Sykes After Dark.” The complaint, a claim of having their rights violated, will go on Paris’ “jacket” to be reviewed.
Shortly after finding the container and disposing of it, Paris began walking back to his patrol car.
He stopped after hearing noise coming from a nearby apartment. Checking out the scene, he found several people inside playing a game.
Determining the noi
se was coming from that apartment, he walked to the front door. Hearing the voices inside talking about drinking, Paris knocked.
Paris was on the scene for nearly 45 minutes in total, with two security guards, writing citations for underage drinking and writing down the names of all persons inside. The alcohol was confiscated.
After leaving this apartment, the police officer and security guards patrolled South Campus in no particular order, finding parties by the loud music and loud voices that followed.
Still on foot, Paris and two security guards now were walking on a sidewalk leading through South Campus.
Walking in between apartment complexes, Paris looked at a window of an apartment complex after hearing a number of voices and loud music. Upon hearing music, he saw the two security guards had already stopped at the door of the apartment and were telling him the number of the building.
Paris, looking into the window as the blinds were about half-drawn, and could see a number of people in the living room.
One security guard knocked on the door. It opened quickly and before the security guard could say why they knocked, the door was shut again.
The security guard told Paris they saw liquor bottles on a table, along with Solo cups.
This time Paris knocked on the door and the same girl opened it minutes later. Paris asked if she was a resident and upon her saying yes he asked to enter, which she consented.
Now the table only had chips, dip, a stack of plates and cups on it upon entry. There were no beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Paris asked everyone in the apartment for their IDs and then asked the residents to collect all the alcohol from the apartment.
Collecting IDs, Paris recognized one person from earlier in the night. It was the person he suspected of carrying a container allegedly with the p?na colada mix.
Two residents walked into bedrooms to retrieve the alcohol. A third resident pointed to five open bottles on the counter next to a stack of red Solo cups.
This was enough probable cause for the officer to search the apartment. After asking them to open the refrigerator, bottles of “Mike’s” were confiscated.
While about 12 to 14 people sat in the apartment quietly, Paris searched the rooms in the apartment.
Upon checking the bathroom, he found one person hiding. Paris told them to come out. After still standing in the bathroom, Paris again told the person to come out.
After mentioning the tazer he carries, the person then stepped out of the bathroom without further confrontation.
With two unarmed security officers in the living room, Paris kept their safety in mind as well as his own.
The person who exited from hiding in the bathroom was the same person from earlier in the night who denied having a container and claimed to be going to “Sykes After Dark.”
After coming out of the bathroom and joining the rest of the people in the living room, the person gave Paris their ID for the second time in less than an hour.
Once again Paris wrote down their information, this time with the information of everyone else in the apartment.
As Paris wrote down their information, he talked to the person, who had been hiding in the bathroom.
Paris informed them he had found the container one of them had discarded. He told them he knew they were lying about not having a water container. At the original scene he told them he would find it eventually, which he had, minutes after the two had left.
Handing back their ID, Paris told them they would be receiving their second judicial for the night.
The first judicial is for “failure to comply” with the police officer, and now the second for having alcohol on campus grounds. This violates WCU’s policy of no alcohol on campus, regardless of age.
They took their ID from Paris, leaving this time without saying a word to him.
By now, two more police officers arrived together at the scene. Paris continued checking IDs, asking each person if they were students at WCU.
Paris asked if anyone wanted to take an “alco-screen” strip test to prove they had not been consuming alcohol. No one did.
After writing down everyone’s information, Paris told the guests they were free to leave.
Telling them again the party was over, Paris had the rest of the guests leave. One person, not a WCU student, was cleared to drive home.
Paris asked the residents if he could search for anything else that “shouldn’t be in the apartment.”
After getting consent, the additional search led him to find another person hiding in the bathroom. She was the resident that had answered the door.
On the first search, he had not seen her as he had asked someone else to come out from hiding in the bathroom. The first time Paris checked the bathroom, he stood in the doorway, partly for his own safety.
Continuing on his search, Paris used his flashlight to look under the beds and in closets.
In the final bedroom, Paris found a third person hiding, attempting to blend in with the hanging clothes.
Asking her to come out of the closet, she came out and began looking for her ID as it was requested.
Picking up a red Solo cup, Paris asked what she was drinking. She said she was in her bedroom, denied she was drinking, and she said there was no alcohol in the cup. Then, changing her statement, she claimed the cup was not hers.
Paris used an “alco-screen” strip to test the liquid in the cup. The strip turned blue, indicating there was alcohol in the cup. Paris dumped the drink down the kitchen sink.
When asked why she was hiding in the closet, she responded that she had just gotten out of the shower.
During the search of the bathroom, prior to finding her fully dressed in the closet, Paris could see that someone had attempted to pour alcohol down the drain in the shower after the police knocked on the door. The alcohol was still visible because it had not drained.
Talking to the residents of the apartment, Paris informed them that, as residents, they “had the party” and will be cited for supplying to minors, a misdemeanor.
They will get fingerprinted at a later date and will have their citations mailed to their home address. They will also receive a judicial for possession of alcohol. Paris told them people “can’t have alcohol” on campus, which violates the student code of WCU.
Confiscating any alcohol that was not dumped at the scene of the party, Paris put the alcohol in the trunk of his car to photograph.
The loud parties were then completely quiet with all guests returning home as Paris returned to the station for hours of paperwork.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fourth year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.