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The Friday night life of the Stanford police

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“You will never catch me eating a donut in uniform,” Deputy Jeffrey Taylor explained as he instead picked up his to-go order at Taqueria El Grullense and began to walk back to his squad car.

Deputy Taylor was followed by friend and fellow deputy, Drew Vasquez. On their way out the door, a woman tapped Vasquez on the shoulder and thanked both men for their service. The officers nodded and smiled in response, but continued back to their squad cars — it is important not to stay off of campus for too long on a Friday night.

The officers work the night shift on weekends, starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 3 a.m., but the bustle really begins from 8 p.m. on. When Deputy Taylor first set out at the beginning of his shift, the idea was to stay mobile. Because each officer is in his or her own vehicle, Taylor explained that he has to “not get [himself] involved in something where no one can come help.”

Until the parties on campus start up, the plan is just to patrol. According to Taylor, one of Stanford Police’s primary goals is bike safety. Normally, the squad of approximately 30 sworn personnel and 120 support staff will decide to target locations that seem to have a particular problem with biking violations.

On a weekend night, however, this is less of a priority. Instead, Taylor drove around the campus, flashing bright white lights into bushes or dark areas while keeping tuned into the police radio.

This continued until the radio called Taylor to action. He was addressed by code based on his proximity to the situation: a turned-in wallet. This led to the immediate detour from patrolling to pick up the wallet from the station, call its owner, and meet the owner to return the wallet. A simple task, but Taylor reported that it happens fairly often.

At 8:30 p.m. the radio call came in for a briefing back at the station. This was the signal for the true beginning of the weekend, when all the on-duty officers gather and make a plan for the rest of the night.

Before the actual meeting began, what can best be described as cop-talk occurs. Several officers examined a large metal shell that sat on the table.  It had been confiscated in a feared bomb threat, but was in reality it was casing for a surveying tool. Amongst the chatter, Deputy Vasquez recounted the DUI he caught the previous night and Deputy Taylor detailed a transport case from a game of beer pong that had gone too far.

The actual briefing began with the distribution of a handout listing all of the parties on campus complete with location, theme and contact person.  The meeting briefly discussed plans on who would focus on which areas — upper row, freshman dorms, etc. — when a new call came through on the radio.  Two officers stood up, announced that there was “a case of edible marijuana gone bad on the quad,” and immediately left to visit the scene. This concluded the meeting, and the rest of the officers went off on their respective assignments.

It wasn’t long before the first call came in: a noise complaint against Kappa Sigma at 10:30 p.m.. This required going to the scene, where several officers met and discussed the situation. The call had been made by a resident who lived across from the fraternity campus. Although Deputy Taylor said that this resident is not the only one to file complaints, this particular resident calls in complaints on a weekly basis and has hired an attorney, threatening the University with a lawsuit.

The first step for Deputy Taylor was to call the resident, who reported that although her measurements had the noise level at 52 decibels at the time of the call, it had been at 65 decibels previously and she was concerned the level would be increasing again. According to Deputy Taylor, noise complaints from private residences on or near campus before Stanford’s official weekend quiet hours are somewhat common because campus quiet hours conflict with the official quiet hours of Santa Clara County.

In response to the complaint, Deputies Taylor and Vasquez must talk to residents at each of the houses in the area. At Kappa Sigma, the music became noticeably softer as the policemen approached the house.

“We’re always the bad guys,” Vasquez said.

The scene at each house is similar. The officers ask the residents to turn down the music, insisting that they want everyone to have a good time but that they fear that as the party gets later the music gets louder.

In between one of the warning stops, Deputy Taylor spotted a male student standing on the edge of a car. Taylor checked his ID, confirming the student is of age, and reminded the student not to drink and drive. According to Taylor, it is only conspicuous activity like this that will prompt police to ID a student.

At the end of the house stops, Deputy Taylor returned to the station.

“After every complaint, we have a lot of paperwork to do.”

Taylor estimated that from the time of the call to the completion of the paperwork, weekend noise complaints require a minimum of two hours to resolve.

After the paperwork, however, Deputy Taylor described the night as successful — no return trips had to be made to lower volume levels or shut down parties. However, there were two alcohol-related medical transports and one serious bike collision of the night.

As Deputy Taylor put it, “just an average weekend.”

 Contact Ada Thockmorton at adastat ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.