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UA's Good Samaritan Policy tries to take the fear out of calling 911

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Simon Asher and Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat A UAPD officer patrols campus in their squad car on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The University of Arizona Police Department implemented the Good Samaritan policy last spring in an attempt to lessen students’ fear of calling for help when an underage student is dangerously intoxicated.

“The goal of the policy is to encourage students to do the right thing and take care of each other and make sure that they’re not thinking about repercussions like potential MIPs [minor in possession] that will prevent them from helping other students that might require medical attention,” said UAPD Public Information Officer Rene Hernandez.

Hernandez said that if a student uses the Good Samaritan policy, they will still be referred to the Dean of Students after he or she receives medical attention. The Dean of Students will then make sure to provide students with any resources they may need regarding the situation.

“The Good Samaritan policy on campus I think has changed the perceptions of students calling 911,” said Samantha Roberts, chief of University Emergency Medical Services 

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Roberts said in the past when she would show up at a scene, students would not want to talk to her because of her uniform and the way she looked because they feared getting in trouble. She said she has not seen that reaction so far this year toward herself or the police.

“I think it’s successful in taking the fear out of calling 911,” Roberts said. “People need to understand that yes, there are consequences for their actions, but none of those consequences should overshadow them if they need medical care or help with safety in any way.” 

Roberts said she thinks that campus is seeing the effects of the policy more culturally than statistically.

“I don’t think it has drastically increased our call volume, although this has been a year of record highs,” Roberts said.

Roberts provided statistics below about the alcohol-related calls and transports that took place last semester and throughout the entire 2015-2016 school year.

In the half of August 2016 that University Emergency Medical Services was in service, Roberts said they received 60 calls within the first 15 days. Out of those 60 calls, 21 of them were categorized as “altered mental status,” which can be alcohol or drug-related or both.

Alex Totillo, a psychology senior said she thinks that people might always be scared to call the police, but the Good Samaritan policy seems like it has good intentions regardless.

“We speak to every incoming freshman class at orientation and let them know about this policy,” Hernandez said. “We want to make sure that they’re actually taking advantage of this program not only to help themselves, but also to help a friend.”

Whether or not the Good Samaritan policy will start being used outside the university and at the Tucson Police Department depends on the need for the policy and if the spread of the policy is a viable option for TPD, according to Hernandez.

“We want to be transparent here at the UA,” Hernandez said. “We’re not here to punish students—we want to make sure they succeed here at the UA.”


Follow Jessica Suriano on Twitter.



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