A new policy will allow Oxford police to treat some criminal offenses as civil citations. Offenses such as illegal U-turns, littering and outdoor furniture violations will no longer necessitate a trip to court, criminal record and the hefty $105 court fee. Instead, a civil citation will include a $60 fine, no court appearance or fee, and no criminal record.
The editorial board of The Miami Student believes this policy is fairer and more efficient. We agree with Police Chief Stephan Schwein that the fine, not court costs, is meant to be the penalty for violations. Moreover, the courts will no longer have to devote vast amounts of time and energy dealing with relatively minor offenses.
Although taking minor infractions off the books was also an option, this board feels it is important to continue enforcing the infractions, and agrees with city council’s choice to continue to use the law as a tool to keep neighborhoods cleaner and safer.
A reduction in the severity of penalties should not be a signal to students that it is okay to be disruptive in the community. Over the past several years and decades, families have been moving out of the Mile-square as more students move in. Although the consequences for infractions may now be less severe, students should take the responsibility to be good neighbors and good community members. By reducing the penalties for many party-related infractions, city council is making a gesture of good faith to students. We should respond in kind.
The non-student residents still remaining in the Mile-square have daily routines that don’t necessarily match ours. Students are obviously the key ingredients in a college town, but we sometimes cause other residents undue stress. We should not subtract in vomit and beer cans what we contribute in energy and youth.
This is an opportunity to build greater trust with the community, which will only make Oxford a nicer place for us to live. The more littering and outdoor furniture infractions students commit, the more resistance there will be from residents at the next city council or planning commission meeting when a proposal for a bar, dance club, student apartments or hookah bar comes up.
The new policy will make the job of the police easier, unclog the courts and improve student-community relations. This board looks forward to similarly enlightened actions from city council in the future, and urges students not to squander this act of good faith.