Signature Move

The Fraternities would hire University police officers to work at their parties to help them to reduce their liability and prevent things from getting out of control. Providing enforcement activities outside the Fraternity House usually set a tone that people could have fun, but that rules didn’t go out the window, Animal House only exists in the movies. Either way, I often found myself contacting people who were drinking alcoholic beverages in public, a violation of the local municipal code, and some of them turned out to be under the legal drinking age.

On one occasion, I contacted a young woman drinking from a can of beer in a brown paper bag. When she provided me with her identification, I saw that she was 18 years old and I explained to her that I was going to issue her a citation for being a minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage. She was friendly and cooperative, not like some of the drunks that I dealt with, but my job was to issue citations, so I issued the citation. As usually happens, she asked if I hadn’t ever drunk alcoholic beverages before I turned 21 years old. And, as I always answered, “Not in public, and especially not out on the street with a bunch of police officers walking around.”

I completed the citation and handed her my ticket book. I showed her where to sign and waited. She made a couple of jokes as she read the citation and then with a wave of the pen, she handed the ticket book back to me. I gave her a copy of the citation and sent her on her way. Later, back at the police station, I took out my citations to write my reports. As I looked her citation over, to see if I’d made any mistakes, because mistakes do happen, I laughed out loud. One of the other officers asked me what happened. I showed him the citation. She had only pretended to sign, the signature line was blank. She got me.

These were the days before everyone had a cell phone, so the next day, I obtained her home phone number and left a message asking her to call me back. Now, she was 18 years old, and technically an adult, so the message I left was my name, that I was with the University, and I needed to talk to her about her paperwork. No response. I figured that I would give her a couple of opportunities to fix the citation before I submitted a report for an arrest warrant. This wasn’t a violation that she needed to go to jail for, just court.

On my third and final all, a man answered the phone. I asked for the young woman and he said that he was her father. I told him that I was from the University and I needed to talk to her about some paperwork that I needed her to sign.

“Is this the police officer that wrote her a ticket the other day?”

“Yes, sir, it is. I need her to come in and sign the citation.”

“Well, isn’t that your problem?”

“Yes, it’s my problem right now, but my only other option is to submit a report for a warrant for her arrest and take her to jail when that gets issued.”

“Isn’t that a little chickenshit?”

“What else am I going to do during Summer Vacation?”

She came to the police station and signed the ticket about an hour later.