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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UAPD should waste less resources on underage drinking and focus more on the source of the problems

    At the beginning of every semester, along with the influx of students entering the Tucson community comes a tide of alcohol purchases.

    Nothing compares to the joy of walking out of the neighborhood supermarket with an armful of liquor, stocked up for the weekend.

    That is, besides, the anguish of being caught in the act by a couple of undercover police officers.

    For those students unlucky enough not to have a fake ID, there is not only the chance of being caught buying alcohol at the sketchiest place in town, but also the chance that the Tucson Police Department Air Support Unit will catch you at the large party you decide to attend, blinding you in the process.

    Doesn’t this seem like a waste of taxpayer resources?

    In 2011, the Tucson Police Department made 423 minor in possession arrests. That number doesn’t include minor in possession arrests made by the University of Arizona Police Department, which adds many more to that total.

    So far in 2012, TPD has made 192 arrests on charges of minor in possession.

    Assuming that the average minor in possession arrest amounts to a $175 profit to the city of Tucson, the city only earned $74,025 last year, well below the police department’s $163-million budget.
    Yes, the helicopter is extremely useful for scattering loud parties and allowing cops to locate drunken students trying to stumble their way to the nearest cab. And undercover cops are very skilled at stopping the sale of alcohol at its source, leaving a few students dry for a weekend.

    Unfortunately, these do nothing to truly prevent widespread underage drinking. Students will always find a way around the cops.

    The helicopter, while crucial for many crimes in the city, often causes the exact problem for which the cops were called to a party in the first place: it creates a major noise violation.

    The appeal of catching buyers and partygoers makes sense. Many would argue that it’s what the police are paid to do, but it seems that they could go about it in a better way.

    Rather than catching a typical college student walking out of CVS Pharmacy, it would make more sense to allocate resources into punishing the people who are actually putting others in danger, like the guy who jumps into a car to drive home after having a few too many drinks or the girl who gets violent because someone told her the ending to “Pretty Little Liars.”

    There have been 2,010 forcible entry burglaries so far this year. There have been 2,081 narcotics possession arrests. There have been 138 cases of sexual assault.

    It’s the police department’s job to make the community safer. Maybe the community would be safer if they didn’t send students running into the streets out of fear of a helicopter, and maybe the streets would be safer if they went after the people selling those narcotics.

    — Dan Desrochers is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @drdesrochers.

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