Staying out of trouble in Cheney

By Linsey Garrison, Staff Writer



As the temperature increases in Cheney so does the number of parties and crimes.

“This spring quarter is probably going to be our busiest because of the weather. When it gets warm out more people come out,” said Officer Chris Oakes of the Cheney Police Department.

Spring quarter’s “First Thursday” turned out to be a rather slow and uneventful evening for police. As a result of the rainy weather, there was only a handful of calls to report problems with alcohol or noise.

According to Officer Nick Briggs of the Cheney Police Department, having a clear understanding of state laws can help students stay out of trouble with law enforcement.

“You can have an open container in your front or back yard, as long as you’re 21 of course. If you’re under 21 and … in your own yard, that doesn’t mean you’re off limits. If we have reason to believe someone is underage and we see them holding a beer, … we can contact them,” said Briggs.

Another common college town problem is noise complaints. Briggs said that about a year ago the noise ordinance was rewritten, making what was once a civil infraction into a criminal citation. This means instead of an on-the-spot ticket, the violator gets a court date. Then it is up to a judge to decide if there will be a fee or even possibly jail time.

“There are a lot of factors that go into a noise [violation]. For starters, we are not required to give a warning. Our overall goal on noise complaints is to fix the problem, which, in that case, is the noise disturbing people in the neighborhood,” said Briggs. “If we can fix that by just talking and getting them to comply with the ordinance, then they are much more likely to receive a warning.”

“I’m not going to tell you to get everyone out of your house, but I can tell you … if I have to come back, here’s what will happen. The fact is, people who are intoxicated are loud, and if you’ve got a bunch of them at your house, it’s going to be hard to keep them quiet,” said Briggs. “In my experience, the easiest way to make sure we don’t get called back for a noise complaint is to get everyone out of your house. Realistically, it is not going to be possible to keep a whole bunch of intoxicated people quiet. We can’t just keep giving out warnings.”

Officers do not carry decibel meters to measure noise, but follow Cheney municipal code 9A.10.010 that states music that can be heard 50 feet from the source at any time of the day is a violation. From 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. the same rule applies to voices.

Planning how to get home safely from the bar is also something students should habitually consider in order to stay out of trouble with law enforcement.

Sleeping in a car is not only potentially unsafe, but it can also lead to a DUI. RCW 46.61.504 states that being in “physical control” of the vehicle is what counts for the purposes of receiving a DUI.

“If people are going to sleep in their car, they need to do a couple things. First, don’t be in the driver’s seat. Don’t have the keys in the ignition. Don’t do anything that makes it look like you were or are going to operate the vehicle,” said Briggs.

It is also possible to get a DUI while riding a bicycle. RCW 46.61.755 states that a person riding a bicycle must follow the rules of the road just like a vehicle.

“I’ve never heard of anyone getting a DUI on a bike and I’ve certainly never given one, but it is possible,” said Briggs. “I would recommend not riding your bike if you’re drunk. It’s a safety issue for yourself and other citizens because it allows you to go much faster than walking. It’s a poor safety strategy. If you’re drunk, just walk or have a designated driver.”

“Kind of an old adage in police work is that we spend 90 percent of our time dealing with 10 percent of the population, and that’s true in Cheney,” said Briggs.