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.