By Caledonia Gerner
Why does Arcata seem to have different practices regarding drug use than other towns in California?
Todd Dokweiler, detective sergeant for the Arcata Police Department, said that the people of Arcata chose to run their town differently.
“Arcata conducts things differently than the rest of the county, cops are here to enforce the ideas and laws that the people think are important,” Dokweiler said.
Dokweiler also said that the Arcata PD could not stop the use of marijuana or alcohol even if they wanted to.
“We could arrest everyone for public intoxication if we wanted to, but instead we focus on maintaining the peace, live and let live and let everyone get along,” Dokweiler said.
Jessica Sepulveda, 19 year-old botany cell molecular biology major, and Tracy Mejia, 19-year-old psychology major, talked about the different policies on drugs that are and are not enforced in Arcata and on the HSU college students.
“Weed is talked about, but it’s not seen as something bad, we want the school to look good,” Mejia said. “Everyone knows about how much it is used here but you don’t go home and talk to your parents about it.”
“They aren’t strict so they give you warnings,” Sepulveda said about the Arcata PD. “The economy runs on college students, they want to appeal to college students.”
“Weed is so common they accept that they can’t really stop it,” Mejia said.
Both Sepulveda and Mejia speculated about the way police tend to be more lenient towards college kids than the towns people, suggesting that college students may get different treatment.
“When we go to parties [the police] don’t have any aggression,” Mejia said. “It’s like routine, the cops come to a party ad we leave, nothing happens, nothing scary.”
When parties get broken up, Mejia and Sepulveda said that it isn’t ever a big deal, no college students fear the police.
“People just leave,” Mejia said. “I’ve heard of some people getting tickets but that’s it.”
“They give you numerous warnings, they show a great amount of mercy,” Sepulveda said. Both students mentioned how incredibly different the cops in Arcata treat students and people in general, when compared with the students’ experiences in other towns.
“The cops in Newport Beach had a smaller tolerance regarding drugs and alcohol,” Sepulveda said. “We are No. 1 in DUIs; we had a checkpoint every weekend. Here they don’t pull you over unless you are really obvious. At home police are looking for something wrong, here you are innocent until proven guilty.”
“Here you are innocent until proven guilty, there you are guilty until proven innocent,” Mejia said.
Dokweiler said that people who choose to live in Arcata may chose to live here because of its more accepting lifestyle.
“Arcata is permissive compared to other towns in the area,” he said. “Each town has the ability to enforce what they want.”