This Ain’t Disneyland

Santa Rita Jail
View From The Right Side Of The Law

This past weekend I rode-along with my friend who is a police officer. His shift started at 5:00 PM on Sunday and due to the cooler weather he predicted it would be a quite night. Within the first thirty minutes the officer noticed a man who was sprawled out in front of a business drinking a beer. It became apparent he had been drinking more than his share of beer that day. He admitted to being homeless and an alcoholic. This homeless man was arrested three days before for being drunk in public. He was arrested again and taken to jail. Being homeless is not a crime but being drunk in public is.

Upon our return from the jail a fellow police officer requested assistance. This time an older gentleman was pulled over for signs of DUI. After a series of tests he was arrested on suspicion of DUI and given a ride to jail. This older gentleman had prior DUI convictions.

Near the end of the time I set aside for this ride-along, the police office observed that a car was weaving in its lane of traffic. Being the only car on a four lane road made this reasonable cause to initiate a traffic stop. The young female driver was given a field sobriety test along with a breathalyzer and was arrested on suspicion of DUI. She had never been arrested before or had any prior contact with the police. Her appearance and car showed she had her life on the right track.

There were two young adults being processed for suspicion of DUI when we arrived just before midnight with our suspected DUI. A young man from a neighboring town tested well above the legal limit on the breathalyzer and had a prior DUI conviction. Another young lady had just had a solo car accident in Livermore and it was obvious she had too much to drink. These two young adults seemed to grasp the gravity of their situation. Our young driver was very stoic and insisted she was not intoxicated or impaired. There was suddenly a huge ruckus within the jail booking area with a lot of yelling and screaming. Our young female driver made a comment about the racket and the officer responded with “this ain’t Disneyland”. Once the paperwork was complete our young female driver was put in a holding cell and as the steel door was being shut the gravity of the situation finally appeared in her eyes. Then the hollow echo of a steel door being shut sounded throughout the concrete intake area. It is a sound I have heard as a volunteer and one you never want to experience.

Three different people. Three different walks of life. All three committed the same crime. All three were treated with respect and dignity even though two out of three were putting the lives of others at risk.

The following video was produced by the City of Livermore for the Every 15 Minutes program for our two high schools. All of the people in this video are members of our community. These are the same police officers and first responders who serve each day. The exercise is so real you will see true emotions from the parents involved. This video was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Public Affairs Program.

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