Lack of amnesty policy doesn’t excuse irresponsibility
After weeks of discussion between the Moscow Police Department and ASUI, the Moscow police decided not to adopt an amnesty policy, which would provide legal immunity to minors who call the police for alcohol-related emergencies.
The University of Idaho added an amnesty policy to the student code of conduct last year — students caught drinking underage while assisting in a medical emergency cannot be punished by the university’s alcohol policies.
But MPD declined to implement a similar amnesty policy because they felt it was not in the best interest of students. Whether or not the Moscow police even have the authority to make a decision on what has been decided by state legislatures in 22 other states is another question entirely.
On a certain level, it is discouraging some sort of policy could not be implemented. The policy could encourage underage students who have been drinking — something no one denies is an issue — to call police and potentially save a life in emergency situations, rather than try to take matters into their own hands. A policy that could save lives is never a bad thing.
But the first priority of Moscow police is to protect the lives of people in the community, and the absence of an amnesty policy won’t change this.
If police are called on to help someone who’s suffering a medical emergency, officers are going to focus on the person in crisis, not the inebriated minor who called for help to save their friend.
A lack of amnesty policy should not deter underage students — regardless of their intoxication level — from calling police when a peer shows signs of alcohol poisoning or any other medical emergency. A Minor in Possession or related charge is a small price to pay for saving a fellow student’s life.
Moscow police have shown consistency in caring for the Moscow community. UI students should honor that precedent and trust officers to do their jobs well, as they have done for years. The department has built a reputation as an understandable and reasonable one, concerned with the safety of the public, not one that racks up fines and arrests on UI students.
The department’s decision is no doubt discouraging to advocates of the policy, but should not cause much concern for the UI community.
If a student’s main concern is a potential MIP — which it shouldn’t be when they are knowingly and willingly breaking the law — MPD offers an opportunity for first-time offenders to remove the citation from their record if they complete an Alcohol Diversion Program.
Many UI students are unaware of how many alcohol-related incidents are close calls. Students shouldn’t resort to relying on luck, hoping their friend makes it through the night and risking someone else’s life in dangerous situations. When the choice has to be made, it is always better to save someone’s life than keep a clean misdemeanor record.