BYU Police Blotter

I know a man who is a police officer in a small town in Idaho.  He told me one of the worst parts of his job is when he gets a call for shoplifting or domestic disturbance or DWI and then finds out the problem involves a fellow church member.  In an effort to cheer him up, I joked that he probably knows more dirt about the people in the ward than the bishop.  He agreed,  but he didn’t think it was funny.

The slice of life that shows up on a town’s police report reveals not only the problems that are common to all of us, but also what is unique about the community.  The BYU police report indicates that Mormons are not immune from the problem of theft, and the stolen items are what you would expect at any university:  cash, laptop computers, ipods, and bicycles.  And I cringe when I read that campus police are occasionally dispatched to a married student housing complex to deal with domestic complaints.  On the other hand, alcohol-related offenses aren’t much of a problem, unless you count some students at Whitney Hall.  An alert citizen called the gendarmes and reported that the perpetrators were “cooking with an alcoholic substance”.  The cops responded and booked them on a charge of minor in possession.  That’s what happens when you want to make chicken marsala for your FHE group, and welcome to Zion.

But the BYU police report shows many things that are wonderful and quirky about the people I love. Where else do people assume the police want to hear that some change was taken from the cupholder in their unlocked car?  And lots of people everywhere get pulled over for a traffic infraction and find out that there is already an outstanding warrant for another offense that calls for their arrest.  But I bet BYU is the only place on earth where the officer will pull you over for driving 20 mph in a 15 mph zone, find out about the warrant, then drive you to your bank to use the ATM, then to the courthouse to pay your fine and clear the warrant, then back to your car!  That’s going the extra mile.

Many of the calls that come to the campus police are for insignificant and petty reasons, but that’s better than having to respond to serious crimes and assaults.  There is something about the combination of juvenile behavior, niceness, paternalism, policespeak and Mormonspeak that fascinates me, and which I often find really funny.  Some of my favorite reports are listed below.  Enjoy. 

Two teenage girls were reported speeding around the northeast parking lot at Wymount Terrace. They were harassing pedestrians, screaming at them, calling them names, and at one point, nearly hitting somebody. The officer met with the two females in the car. Their excuse for their behavior was that a pedestrian was careless. They claimed he walked out in front of them without paying attention and they almost hit him. There was some disrespectful verbal commentary between the pedestrian and the car occupants.

A BYU employee was driving down the hill near the Tanner Building, when his vehicle was hit by a water balloon. He thought the balloon came from the direction of the Tanner Building or Helaman Halls. There are no suspects.

A faculty member reported being threatened by a student in the Taylor Building. The student is in strong disagreement of an assessment of his academic performance.

A conflict, due to a failure to communicate and talk problems out, was reported between two 18-year-old female students living in M. Smith Hall in Heritage Halls. The roommates have been arguing over apartment chores and accusing one another of destroying each other’s food. Profanity and some hair pulling was involved. This has been turned over to the housing office for a resolution.

An individual held a sign offering free hugs in the Harold B. Lee Library. When asked by an officer to leave, he declined to leave the area and continued offering free hugs.

Police found a parked car with two individuals in it in the southeast corner parking lot of 2230 North and University Parkway. Police said the couple was there for “romantic purposes”.

BYU police were called out to assist Provo police who had pulled over a man for a traffic offense who did not speak English. Upon arrival of the Spanish-speaking officer, the man realized he was getting a ticket despite the language barrier and was able to speak English fluently.

Road rage overtook two individuals as a female driver was driving behind a male driver and got upset. She said he was driving too slowly, and he said he was driving the speed limit. They discovered they both lived at Wymount, and after parking their cars they yelled at each other. The man later apologized for yelling at the woman.

A student reported a suspicious individual with long gray hair and a beard inside a restricted lab in the Clyde building. Upon arrival, the officer found a mannequin in the reported location.

An officer responded to a report of a suspicious individual. Upon arrival at the scene, the officer identified the male as a BYU student collecting specimens from the botany pond for his biology project.

Three freshmen were apprehended and issued misdemeanor citations after police observed them detonating a dry-ice bomb on the Deseret Towers field.

A female student who was not accepted into her MBA program refused to leave the Tanner Building pending an explanation of why she had not been accepted.

A deer was hit by a vehicle on Ninth East on the south end of Kimball Hall. Police responded and reported that the deer passed away.

An assault was reported at the BYU vs. Utah State football game on Saturday. The victim, a male BYU student, was standing in front of the suspect, a female BYU student, and obstructing the female’s view of the game. The female asked the male, who didn’t have a ticket in that section of the stadium, to sit down or move. The man refused. An argument ensued and the event’s staff asked the man to sit down, which he would not. The male victim allegedly called the suspect a derogatory name and asked her, “What are you going to do to get me to sit down? Slap me?” The female suspect then slapped the male victim. The victim did not press charges.

An assault was reported in R Hall of Deseret Towers. One male student threw a bug on another male student who retaliated by spraying shaving cream on the male that threw the bug. Shaving cream got in the eyes of the first student and the argument quickly escalated and became a physical confrontation.

An individual reported male students singing to female students outside of Hinckley Hall in Helaman Halls. The males were advised to leave due to complaints.

Two male students were reported trying to capture a duck using a plastic laundry basket at the botany pond at the base of Maeser Hill. The students admitted to trying to catch the duck but said they weren’t stealing the duck, just borrowing it to put it in one of their friend’s rooms as a joke.

Comments

  1. Oh, man, those are funny.

    Years ago, I found a book called “Zoobie or Not Zoobie” – a hilarious collection of comics and articles that appeared in BYU newspapers (authorized and underground) over a twenty year period. I wish I had it available to share some of the content, but I remember the one about rebellion equaling walking in the out doors of the library. I’ll try to find it, if it isn’t packed in a box somewhere.

  2. Here’s a fine one from October 10:

    A suspicious man was reported lingering in the parking lot at Wymount Terrace. He was smoking near a truck with California plates. After investigation, the police discovered that the suspect was the father of a resident of Wymount Terrace. He had come to help his son repair his vehicle.

    In fairness to the snitch, the guy did show several reliable indicia of rampant criminality: tobacco, California ties, and a pickup truck. He’s probably the bastard that set Orange County on fire the other day.

  3. We like to poke fun at the zoobies, but I’d rather have my daughter put up with this environment than some of the other big universities which she is considering…

  4. Amen, queuno. Amen and amen. Now if I could find that book . . .

  5. queuno,

    Happy is the man who can laugh at himself, for he will always have a source of amusement. We zoobies are some of the happiest people on earth. . .

    gst,

    Agreed, I think it was the California tags that drew attention to this alleged felon.

  6. I forgot how funny the BYU police blotter was. Thanks for the reminder.

    queuno,

    I hear you. Going to a state university after BYU was quite the eye opener and not usually in a good way.

  7. As a University of Utah alumnus who would visit his best friend at the Y., I can vouch for the absurdity of the Y. student body. Why, when Neil Diamond came to town, students were protesting that his hair was over his collar, therefore he shouldn’t be allowed on the campus. To think today these people might be bishops and Relief Society presidents.

  8. i love this stuff! i used to live in a small town in rural san diego county and we had a killer blotter. the best week:

    – seven 2×4’s stolen from backyard
    – license plate stolen from 1962 buick
    – counterfeit five dollar bill passed at yard sale
    – man caught peeping in windows of his own house

  9. haha… my favorite on this list is the last one.

    I have to say though, I actually think BYU is a little bit more crime ridden than my own non-LDS university. People routinely abandon thier laptops, books, bags, wallets, ipods, phones, etc, in common areas and very rarely does anything get stolen. I think some of that may come from being a relatively small university with a student poulation that is generally very well off, but when I was a student this summer at BYU, I had to change some of my habits because it just felt less safe.

  10. Left Field says:

    Sadly, the archives don’t go back far enough to document the BYU Police Mirandizing me back in 1978.

  11. Easily one of the best perks of attending BYU is the Police Beat. That, the comics, and the NYTimes crossword make the Daily Universe useful.

  12. I love these. I also love the Police Beat columns the Herald has from time to time. Some of the stuff for my town is priceless – stealing a horse, pumpkin mischief, etc. Of course there is more serious stuff going on as well, but after living in Vegas, where my husband is a cop, the scope and volume of it, combined with some of the innocent pranky type of crime, is an extremely refreshing change.

  13. Does anyone else remember Eric Snider’s Snide Remarks column in which he parodied the BYU Police Beat? It’s pretty funny that the incidents he made up are only slightly twisted variations on the real thing.

  14. I still love the one where someone reported a shaking elevator in the Benson building and the cops caught two people involved in “amorous activity”. I miss Police Beat sometimes…

    Oh, and I am always astounded by people who leave their stuff sitting around and then get upset when someone steals it. One time at an Enrichment meeting in Orem we had a police officer talk about public safety and he said that over 60 percent of burglary cases they responded to involved unlocked homes or vehicles.

  15. Also, I am always amazed by how many Police Beat things are for “suspicious people” like the guy smoking at Wymount. I might think that’s a little weird, but I would never call the police on him. If nothing else maybe try talking to him first…

  16. I mean, he WAS a cop. He lives here now. With me.

  17. Doug Evans says:

    In 1958/59, I lived in Helaman Halls (male student residence then) in rooms directly over the roadway as it rounded the southh end of the building. On Sundays, in the spring of the year, when the weather was sunny and warm, California guys who had to prove they were SHARPER AND COOLER than any of us in HH, would drive their snazzy convertibles with the top down and seats front and back full of girls down the road past our building to show off their hot cars and SoCal egos. We above used to delight in cooling them off with a deluge of dozens of colorful fully filled water balloons. When got soaked some would stop, run into the building to find the perpetrators, but we never got caught. However, the floor super did put a message on our bulletin board warning of servere consequences if the balloon bombing didn’t desist. You could literally hear the laughter ringing through the corridors.

    One other event that got newspaper coverage involved guys in male occupied Helaman Halls with telescopes getting some remarkable looks at the gals in the female occupied H.Halls a couple of buildings away. Needless to say this was thoroughly investigated and the guys given very sober warnings and even threats of expulsion from the Y. However, one thing some of the guys pointed out to the BYU gendarmes was that some of the women also had telescopes and were getting some similar looks in the windows of the dorms in the male occupied H.Halls. The duty officers were a bit perplexed and it took quite an effort to put a stop to the unsolicited and sometimes embarrasing scanning of the opposite sex.

    Those were crazy days when we only had about 6,000 students in total attending the Y. Life could get pretty dull at times and it resulted in some very creative thinking.

    The biggest fun of all, however was when some guys stood inside the four man shower stall, block the entry with a couple of bed sheets held up by football muscle types, then block the central drain, turn on all 4 shower heads and hold the sheets up until the water got waste deep or more. They would then let go of the sheets, the water would flow deeply through the entire floor corridors and then run and slide on their bellies down the lino finished hallway partly filled with water. However, some of the water flowed into rooms and this activity had a very short life.

    Some how, which I can’t really figure out, I became studentbody vice president my last year (1960). It was a great experience and changed my life forever.

    Sorry for being so long winded.

  18. John Mansfield says:

    My last semester at BYU, I passed a suspicious-looking fellow one morning. I considered asking the police to go see him, but then berated myself for wanting to call the police on someone just because he seemed out of place. (And doing nothing is always the easiest thing to do anyway.) An hour later, someone matching his description assaulted a woman very close to where I saw him.

  19. Oh, boy this brings back good memories. Thanks for posting such a humorous corss-section of LDS/BYU life.

  20. My favorite BYU police beat involved someone walking around campus removing all the recycle signs and stickers from the bins because they were the “mark of the beast.”

  21. cj douglass says:

    While serving a mission in Utah, I was pulled over for speeding three times. Apparently missionaries get a free ride in Utah. No tickets were issued.

  22. Not a BYU Beat report, but the small town, weekly newspaper where I live often has similar reports. One was, “Towel stolen from local swimming pool. Investigation underway.”

    The best one was, “Bag of ‘drugs’ found on the corner of 3rd and Main. Upon further investigation it was discovered to be a bag of candy corn.” Seriously.

  23. …two 18-year-old female students…arguing… Profanity and some hair pulling was involved

    Oh man…

  24. You might be a Zoobie if… (or not as smart as a 5th grader if…)

    You’re in trouble with the housing office for “profanity and some hair pulling” =)

  25. I went to school at Utah State University. I remember a Police Beat blurb reporting a theft. The victim had left a Twix and a Coke on a bench to go to the bathroom and they were gone when he came back. There were no suspects.

  26. “A 22-year-old female student reported Sunday that she thought was being stalked. The same male suspect had come to her house frequently, always uninvited, since the beginning of the semester, and had always tried to engage her in conversation, despite her firm declarations that she did not wish to speak with him. Police investigation revealed that the suspect was the victim’s home teacher. He was arrested and charged with Zealous Duty-Doing.”

    I love that one from Eric Snider’s column that Ziff posted. =)

  27. I’M SURE SHE SAID SIX-THIRTY

    One of the hardest explanations to be found
    Is an explanation for just standing around.
    Anyone just standing around looks pretty sinister,
    Even a minister;
    Consider then the plight of the criminal,
    Who lacks even the protective coloration of a hyminal,
    And as just standing around is any good criminal’s practically daily stint,
    I wish to proffer a hint.
    Are you, sir, a masher who blushes as he loiters,
    Do you stammer to passers-by that you are merely expecting a street-car, or a dispatch from Reuter’s?
    Or perhaps you are a safeblower engaged in casing a joint;
    Can you look a patrolman in the eye or do you forget all the savoir-faire you ever loint?
    Suppose you are a shoplifter awaiting an opportunity to lift a shop,
    Or simply a novice with a length of lead pipe killing time in a dark alley pending the arrival of a wealthy fop,
    Well, should any official ask you why you are just standing around,
    Do you wish you could simply sink into the ground?
    My dear sir, do not embarrassed, do not reach for your gun or your knife,
    Remember the password, which, uttered in a tone of quiet despair, is the explanation of anyone’s standing around anywhere at any hour for any length of time: “I’m waiting for my wife.”

    ~ Ogden Nash

  28. Some reports I’ve collected:

    Suspicious activity
    July 6: Police were called after a man was reported to be praying to the statue of Joseph Smith in the atrium of the Joseph Smith Building. The man was gone when police arrived.

    A female student contacted police after being asked personal questions by a male student on Brigham’s Square. The questions alarmed the female, but police determined the questions were not in violation of any laws, but were “more in depth” than most people are used to when they first meet another.

    Disorderly Conduct
    A man was found bathing in the fountain of the Joseph F. Smith Building fountain and praying to a rock.

    A female student reported that someone was tapping at her window at John Hall in Helaman Halls Sept. 3 and she saw a mannequin head on a pole. There were 15 people in the area with two heads on poles. The case is closed and there are no suspects.

    CRIMINAL MISCHIEF
    A Deseret Towers V-Hall resident has been receiving Snack Pack attacks from someone throwing the pudding at their window for the past three days.

    At 7:20 a.m., March 20, police received a report of animals being found in the men’s restroom on the seventh floor of V-Hall of Deseret Towers. The responding officers found five live chickens in a cardboard box, 50 dead goldfish in the sinks and a layer of straw six to eight inches deep covering the bathroom floor. An investigation led to the identification of the truck that was used to transport the straw. Charges are pending against the owner of the truck and police are continuing an investigation to identify others involved with the incident.

    VANDALISM
    A Student residing in the fourth floor W-Hall of DT left his room to go to church Nov. 23. Between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. unknown individuals left a wild duck in a bucket of water in his room. Attached to the anonymous duck was a note that read “Please feed Moses at least three times daily and give him fresh water. We named him Moses after the prophet because he likes to escape out of Egypt, if you know what I mean. He really likes people.” While the duck had been locked in, it had messed in the room. The cost of clean up was $30 and the duck was released back to nature.

    Domestic Dispute
    A piano teacher observed a nine-year-old boy and his mother striking each other and wrestling on the ground in front of Wymount Terrace when the boy refused to go to his piano lesson on Jan. 14. The incident was reported to the Utah Division of Family Services.

    SUSPICIOUS PERSON
    Nov. 16, a complaint was made about a man hanging around the Ezra Taft Benson Building discussing university take-over, world take-over and cold fusion. The man requested a meeting with a professor, at which he then discussed with the professor that Albert Einstein was a fraud. The man wanted the professor to help him take over classrooms at BYU, which he said would eventually lead to world dominion. The man also requested a meeting with President Bateman. The man is described as being around 70-years-old, white hair, with a short beard, about 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. If students have information about the man they are asked to contact the University Police.

    A 50-year-old white male left an express package at the Women’s Resource Center June 29 at 9:40 p.m. The package was for the recruiting of an individual to become his 12th wife to help him usher in the New Jerusalem. He is described as being 6 ft. tall of slight build. Individuals in the area are asked to contact police if he returns.

    SCRIPTURAL DISTURBANCE
    A man entered an office in the Jesse Knight Humanities Building regarding some grammatical problems in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Sept. 9 at 10:43 a.m. The individual presented himself to a secretary and a discussion ensued. The man left, but overheard a professor instructing the secretary to call the police if the man returned. The man came up behind the professor and tried to re-enter the office. The secretary closed the door but the man stood outside pounding on and kicking the door. Two plain clothes officers then confronted the man outside the building and arrested him for causing a disturbance and accosting a professor.

  29. Tanya Spackman says:

    Ah, thank you for the laugh. I love BYU’s police reports and the letters to the editor. Even know, nearly 10 years removed from my college years, I still enjoy reading them once in a while. Good stuff, I tell ya.

  30. Neal Peters says:

    It was about 11:30 at night when I had my first run-in with BYU’s insanely zionist police force. Self-endowed with power from on high, the BYU police force patrols the campus with a zeal and scrutiny usually reserved for war time nations in Central Europe. I was heading back to my apartment via bicycle and stopped for a red light. Like a good Mormon boy, I stood there with my bicycle and patiently waited for the light to turn green (this is at the intersection next to the Marriot Center and the alumni house). While waiting for the light to turn, a BYU police car approached the intersection from my right. He had a green light. For reasons I am still unaware of, instead of proceeding through his green light, he stopped at the intersection. He came to a stop and then clearly beckoned for me to proceed through the intersection. We were the only two individuals at the intersection. My light was still red, and at the time, this fact must have been obvious to him as his light was green at the time. In any case, I accepted his gesture of good will and I proceeded through the intersection. He then proceeded to pull me over and tried to cite me for running a red light.

  31. Eric Russell says:

    Neal, if true, that is indeed a very strange story. But not nearly as strange as your vaguely anti-Semitic swipe at the BYU police in the first line.

  32. I have vague memories of a once-yearly “Best of Police Beat” in the Daily Universe.

    My favorite was a mischief maker in the Wymount parking lot. Asked what he was doing there, the individual replied, “I’m visiting my girlfriend. She lives back there.” (Wymount is married student housing).

    There also seemed to be several reports of folks stealing scriptures from the bookstore which always seemed the height of irony (though from a strict profit motive, what else is that size and can cost upwards of $100?).

  33. Neal Peters says:

    Eric,

    You seem confused and distrusting. Are you a BYU police officer?

  34. Eric R.,

    Anti-semitic? Surely you mean anti-Zionist? Or maybe Anti-cryptozionestablishmentarian?

  35. (incidentally, #5 and #6, i am an ex-zoobie, who also ended up at a state university after BYU. i’m still shocked at what I see…)

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