Decrease in Arrests, Medical Calls and Attendance on 4/20

Four arrests, including a felony possession of a firearm, at unsanctioned 4/20 gathering

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Photo by Sean MacNaughton.
Photo by Sean MacNaughton.

Four arrests were made on and around the UC Santa Cruz campus during the unsanctioned 4/20 gathering today.

Among them, California Highway Patrol arrested 67 year-old Los Banos resident Robert Spaniel for felony possession of a loaded firearm at the UCSC West Entrance DUI checkpoint. Demone Hopkins, 41, and passenger Melanie Hillard, 43, both from Boulder Creek, were arrested for possession of counterfeit bills and possession of psilocybin — or psychedelic mushrooms. Both had warrants out for their arrest. Hopkins was also arrested for driving under the influence. All three were booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.

“This is two years in a row now that we have taken a gun off of someone at 4/20 and that’s a scary thing for me, ” said UC Santa Cruz Police Chief Nader Oweis. “They’re all older and coming onto a college campus and into a meadow with 18, 19, 20-year-olds. There is more to what they were doing than showing up to smoke marijuana, what that is I don’t know.”

The fourth person was arrested, cited and released for driving with a suspended license.

Over 220 parking and traffic citations were issued on and around campus.

“The traffic citations are for two reasons, we are looking for individuals that are distracted and impaired,” Oweis said. “By looking for individuals who were impaired or distracted, it’s part of our education as well for the rest of the campus.”

Photo by Sean MacNaughton.
Photo by Sean MacNaughton.

 

About 100 officers representing the UCSC Police Department and California Highway Patrol were present on 4/20. The turnout to the unsanctioned gathering was over 2,000 — smaller than last year’s crowd, which drew over 3,000. Oweis said that this year there has been a bigger effort to increase safety and education since the passing of Proposition 64 legalizing marijuana.

“Our officers did a lot of education today and there were a lot of people walking up to them and asking them about [the legality of marijuana],” Oweis said. “There is still a lot of confusion about that. If we can somehow educate the student population about what you can and can’t do and where you can and can’t do it.”

Marijuana is still illegal on campus, since UCSC is federally funded public and a smoke free university.

“A lot of people just came to see it, they didn’t even go to smoke marijuana,” Oweis said. “They just wanted to see what it was about, and in that process quite a few people had good conversations with our officers.”

There was only one medical aid call last year and no medical aid calls this year. Eight student volunteers from the Emergency Medical Slugs group assisted UCSC PD with basic first aid in the Porter Meadow. Santa Cruz Fire Department was also on scene in case of any medical emergencies.

“I can’t bring in 100 officers a day, it’s not the right thing to do and not sustainable,” Oweis said. “We need to make sure everyone is part of our team, not against us. If we can do that, some of the problems we have seen over the past couple of years will diminish on their own.”