Ticket to responsibility
Sponsored by the University of Idaho Division of Finance and Administration, Campus Liaison Officer Bill Shields from the Moscow Police Department hosts an annual “Cops and Donuts” event, where he discusses drug and alcohol awareness and safety with students on campus with complimentary snacks and refreshments.
“(I hope to tell students to) hopefully stay out of trouble, get through college, have fun, but realize that there are consequences for their actions,” Shields said.
Shields covers the consequences for underage drinking, open containers, distributing to minors, driving under the influence and drug possession charges. He also passes out a handout with all of the fines for citations during the presentation.
Shields said the meetings were mandatory for Greek fraternities and sororities, but at the residence halls — such as the presentation he made to students at Theopolis Tower on Sept. 11 — attendance was optional.
“I’ve been doing these (talks) for three years,” Shields said. “I’ve been trying to get to as many living groups that will possibly invite me, if I can talk to five people to listen to me I’ll do it.”
He said his goal is to give information that may not be readily available to students, hoping they will make better decisions.
“It’s great that they get to meet an officer and get to have some sort of interaction that is positive instead of a negative interaction,” Shields said.
He said his biggest hope is that with these talks people can see cops from a different perspective. “I hope they see me as more of a human being with some funny stories that’s trying to help them out rather than a crazy authoritarian figure,” Shields said.
Shields said that going into the fourth week of school, Latah County Police have issued about 80 minors in possession citations.
During his Sept. 11 presentation, Shields said the reason why the Moscow police write a lot of minors in consumption is because the UI contract with the police department is about $1 million this year. Shields said UI has a zero tolerance policy on drinking at UI because if a student were to die from alcohol poisoning the university is liable for it.
“I want everyone to understand that when cops are out there giving tickets it’s not because I get a toaster for writing 15, I don’t get a bonus at the end of the month, I don’t get free cupcakes, I don’t get anything it’s the same amount of work if I write zero or I write 100,” Shields said.
He said there are way too many deaths from alcohol poisoning and if students are worried about a friend they need to call 911, and save their life.
“It was just last year that we were taking one person a week off campus being transported to the hospital for an alcohol overdose,” Shields said.
Shields said Moscow has an alcohol issue. The two liquor stores in town sell about $4 million in alcohol per year, Winco about $750,000 in wine and beer sales and he estimated Rosauers around $1.5 million. Including Wal-Mart and Safeway, he said this totals at least $9 million of alcohol sold with a population of 28-35,000 people.
“We have an issue and we all need to kind of start working on it, it’s not mine to work it’s unfortunately your guys’,” Shields said. “We’re not celebrating people that can drink a fifth or a thirty pack anymore.”
Aaron Wolfe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org