The proposed Davis City Minor Alcohol Preclusion Ordinance has been pushed back amid strong opposition toward the measure. The Davis City Council unanimously decided on March 6 that the ordinance would be postponed until further changes could be made.
If the ordinance had passed, Davis police would have been granted the ability to cite minors under the age of 18 who are intoxicated in public. Currently, though it is illegal for minors to purchase or consume alcohol in public, there is no law against a minor having alcohol in his or her system in public.
At present, if a minor is found with alcohol in her or his system, the only thing the police can do is attempt to find the minor’s guardian.
“Technically, now, a kid can just walk away,” said Police Captain Darren Pytel. “There’s nothing to prevent them from doing that.”
The proposal has seen much debate since its induction in January. After receiving input from various community sources, it has undergone two revisions.
The first revision granted criminal prosecution immunity to a person under 21 if the individual called in for a medical emergency concerning a minor who has consumed alcohol.
The second revision added a sunset date of April 1, 2014 to the ordinance. After the first two years, police would gather data over the interim that would be provided to the city council.
Nevertheless, the revisions proved insufficient, and the ordinance will see another round of revisions before being considered again.
During the March 6 council meeting, Davis Police Chief Landy Black spoke about the proposal.
“The most notable reason for us to act was the public conduct,” Black said. “It was causing disruption to neighborhoods, unsafe acts in public places and risky behavior to take place.
“We have no misconceptions that we’re going to be able to actually cause youth to stop drinking. What we do want to cause to occur is that that behavior will have less of an impact on the neighbors and less of an impact on the community as a whole,” he said.
As it stands, if members of the community are disturbed by rowdy teenagers, police will be dispatched to the location. The police will be unable to do much unless they see the minors committing an illegal act. Knocking over garbage cans, swinging on street signs and causing a general ruckus, though perhaps annoying, do not violate the law.
Tia Will, a 24-year resident of Davis, shared her thoughts at the meeting regarding the proposal.
“A collaborative approach is almost always better,” she said. “The students, the town people, the neighborhood residents — you want everyone to be involved in this, not just a kind of ‘catch-them-and-punish-them approach.’”
ASUCD President-elect Rebecca Sterling and ASUCD Senator Bradley Bottoms attended the meeting as well.
Before the council made its decision, Bottoms shared his thoughts about student-police relations.
“I feel that students’ views on police relations have changed. With the pepper-spray incident, especially, I feel like there’s a major shift,” Bottoms said. “And students are no longer seeing police as allies and starting to see them more as the other, which I think is a really dangerous situation.”
The ordinance was planned to be passed in time for Picnic Day on April 21. With the council’s decision, the ordinance will not be ready for enforcement by that time.
The proposal has been sent back to the City-UC Davis Student Liaison Commission and the Human Relations Commission to be revamped over the next 90 days into a form that members of the community may find more palatable.
ANDREW POH can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.