Being a cop isn’t easy

Being a cop isn’t easy. It is a tough job working around the worst element of society. A job where a gun is necessary equipment, and so is a bulletproof vest.

It is easy to assume every police officer is as rude as the one who pulled you over to write a ticket and while hitching up his pants asked, “Where’s the fire at son?”

Throw in incompetence like the Duke Lacrosse case, questionable prosecutions like the Siegelman/Scrushy case, and you’ve got a recipe for distrust not only of police, but our entire criminal justice system.

Of course, that is probably a good thing. The public should question every action of the government, especially when the state decides to label someone a criminal. However, not every cop is bad or arrogant or a jerk. Some of them are dedicated public servants, who like you and me can have a bad day.

But the venom directed at the Tuscaloosa Police Department may or may not be correct. The officer may have overstepped common sense when he arrested Simeon Castille on charges of disorderly conduct at about 2 a.m. Sunday. According to the Castille family, the charges weren’t warranted.

Ultimately, this arrest once again proves Dr. Robert Witt is correct. The Strip must be cleaned up. College is for learning, not endless parties. Perhaps I’ve become old and out-of-touch, but the Capstone should be known for academics not as a party destination. The Capstone should be known for excellence on the field, not football players being arrested. The University deserves better than this. The students deserve better than this.

Students are going to party. Students are going to make bad choices. Unfortunately, some of these choices place lives and property in danger. While alcohol was reportedly not involved in the Castille incident, can anyone doubt alcohol’s deleterious effect on Tuscaloosa’s environment?

When football players are out at 2 a.m., in an area where libations are flowing like water in a stream, it is a recipe for disaster. It is time Alabama fans and UA alums supported cleaning up Tuscaloosa—if nothing else, maybe for the good of the football team? That seems to be the only thing some folks care about.

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  1. 1

    Look, I believe that the TPD has a difficult job and must use experience and discretion to perform responsibly. Whether the arrest stands up for a warrant or not remains to be seen.

    I am not sure what is meant by “cleaning up” the Strip. Should all business that serve alcohol be closed? What ever happened to personal responsibility? If students choose to be stupid, then they should suffer the consequences. No one forced, nor coerced Mr. Castille to be there at 2 AM. If he is innocent, then great. If not, he should stand up and accept what punishment there is.

    A safe environment is the ideal we seek to offer our citizens. I do not believe that the Strip is any different from the Temerson Square area. It seems to be considered “clean”

  2. 2
    Dave(not that one, the other one)

    Why can’t a school be both a fun place/and a good place to get a degree. According to the Princeton Review (via Wikipedia) UA isn’t in the top 20 party schools for 2007. Numbers One and Two are UT-Austin and Penn State, respectively. I think you’ll agree both are good schools, both to get a degree and play Football.

    When i was in school in the early 90’s, i remember Alabama being ranked near the top of the party school list, the football team was great, and yes there were fights on the strip, mostly between rival Frat Houses. The strip was great back then, it was bars and greasy restuarants (remember Kwik Snak?) from the Endzone to Whatever the BamaBeachClub was called that year. There was a place for every type crowd, those underage went to the Tusk, Jam Band Fans went to the Purple Phish, GDI’s when to the Brass Monkey, Old Row guys and gal’s had Gallettes. The Houndstooth was a small little craphole where you could play trivia and or QB1. But best of all, you could walk home to your dorm or apartment at the end of the night.

    Never once did i feel unsafe on the strip, and never once did i get arrested for drunk driving because everyone always walked home. I wonder how many people do that now with a great number of bars having moved downtown.

  3. 3

    Great comments guys. One of the key themes in emails I’ve received about this essay was the DUI issue.

    Let me ask this question, and I don’t mean it to sound as rude as it will. I’m just doing it for the sake of discussion. But isn’t arguing for easy access to bars the same thing as arguing for safer drugs ie: make drugs legal and give addicts free needles?

    As for feeling safe, Dr. Witt pointed out some excellent empirical research showing the blight on the strip. In an op-ed published in the T-News he wrote:
    “Research shows a strong link between substandard conditions, a high concentration of bars and crime. The Atlantic Monthly’s highly acclaimed article “Broken Windows” reports that crime increases and quality of life decreases in communities where blighted conditions go unchecked.”

    What are the blighted conditions on the strip? This is also from Dr. Witt’s op-ed:
    “Many of the businesses operating along the section of University Boulevard known as the Strip are in structures that are in poor condition both inside and out.

    “Of the 40 businesses located on the Strip, only five provide retail shopping opportunities. By contrast, 17 businesses sell alcohol within a 1,200-foot span along University Boulevard; seven of them are bars.

    “Inadequate parking is a major issue negatively impacting the viability of the Strip as a center for shopping.”

  4. 4

    Most of the trouble I’ve ever gotten into has been alcohol related.
    Don’t be a fool and think alcohol is your friend, it isn’t.

  5. 5

    To paraphrase a great American philosopher: Alcohol, the cause of and solution to most of life’s problems!

  6. 6
    Dave(not that one, the other one)

    Homer Simpson, Great American.

    I would say that last quote says it all, the strip simply didn’t have enough parking (at least while I was in school) to sustain real shopping. You could park next to the Sigma Nu house or behind the Houndstooth and that’s about it.

    The real blight on the strip was caused by the slumlords who owned the apartments around it. the state of those things were bad 15 years ago, i’m sure they are worse now. I’d be all for a facelift/upgrade to the actual buildings on the strip. I don’t think anyone wants go to a bar and stand in an inch deep puddle because the sewage line is backed up (cough the Booth cough).

    I think you can have both bars and a nice looking Strip. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

  7. 7

    I don’t think you can ignore the correlation between many bars and crime. Combine that with proximity to campus, and you’ve got problems.

    I’m not saying every bar should be closed. However, isn’t the partying culture just a bit over done?

  8. 9
    Dave(not that one, the other one)

    that and a Patty Melt was the best thing in the world to suck up all that alcohol.

    Of course it’s overdone, but that’s what your early 20’s are for. If you are going to drink, you have to learn to do so sometime, and a strip of bars within walking distance is a better place than somewhere you have to drive.

    I’m not trying to say that there were/are no problem on the strip, and yes, most of them were fueled by alcohol, but moving bars farther away doesn’t stop kids from partying, it just forces it farther off campus to the downtown area or into neighborhoods for house partys. I don’t know about you, but i’d much rather have a bunch of kids partying somewhat supervised by bartenders/bouncers in a bar than them having a loud ass house parties next door to me.

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