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Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Welcome, students: Here's how to avoid getting an arrest record or an MIP before you graduate

By Rich Kinsey

Welcome students! Whether you are a freshman or a returning student, Ann Arbor and the surrounding area welcomes you. Do not worry, I warned all the locals that you were coming last week and they are ready to enrich your total educational experience while you are residing with us. There are, however, a few things you should remember as you embark on what may be the most fun, memorable and, relatively speaking, carefree years of your life.


A bin filled with a student's belongings sits outside East Quad during a fire alarm on move-in day, August 28.

Brianne Bowen |

You have probably already noticed after you set up your loft or made your bed, after worried loved ones dropped you off or kissed you good-bye, from wherever you came from, that if you are looking for a party you can find one—especially before school starts. Take this weekend for instance.

There is bound to be a street-closing party on Arbor, Oakland or Greenwood streets and at various other locations surrounding Central Campus. The University of Michigan Central Campus is the area around “The Diag”—you there, freshman in the back playing with your iPhone, you have got a lot to learn while you are here including the local lingo that the hundreds of thousands of students who came before you planted on Ann Arbor and “the U” over the years, so pay attention.

At those huge parties and on the streets around such large gatherings you are bound to meet my brothers and sisters in blue. The Ann Arbor Police Department, where I proudly served for almost 27 years, and the University of Michigan Police Department are your friends and are there to help you, when you need it, 24/7 and 365 days a year.

The blue lights around the downtown and campus areas, are emergency phones in case you or someone else needs immediate police, fire or medical response and your cellphone battery is dead or, heaven forbid, you left it lying around unattended and it was stolen.

Should the police make contact with you, instead of you calling them, please listen to what they are telling you. They have done this before and know of what they are speaking. Pay attention, do as the officer says and things will go much more smoothly.

Do not try to be barley beverage bolstered Clarence Darrow or Oliver Wendell Holmes on the streets. You may think you know the law, but I promise you the men and women with badges on their chests know it better and their minds are not dulled by the brain-cell inhibiting effects of alcohol, other chemicals or “medicines.” Instead of embarking on the greatest legal speech or tirade about constitutional law that you will ever live to regret—just go along with the officer’s program.

If you do not do what the usually kind officer tells you to do, you run the risk of ticket or “code violation” or worse yet “legal jewelry” also known as—or “a.k.a.” in police abbreviation—handcuffs. If your particular brand of partying, defiance, civil protest, criminal or drunken behavior has placed you in handcuffs, please remember not to twist your wrists.

Handcuffs are made of case hardened steel in most cases. The opening your wrists fit into is oval shaped, like your wrist. If you try to twist your wrist in the handcuff, it will feel like the officer pushed a magical electronic button to torture your wrist bones when the officer has done nothing.

Again the handcuff opening is oval or elliptical shaped not round and circular. If you are having problems understanding the difference in those shapes, perhaps you could ask the engineering student down the hall to explain or attend the office hours of some “TA”—that’s teaching assistant, freshman…learn the lingo, dude—in the “Med Sci”—Medical Science—building.

The TA might even be able to show you the elliptical nature of the wrist on a real human cadaver—how cool is that? This isn’t the frog or worm dissections from Mrs. Brock’s high school biology class, Skippy. Nope, this is a world-class university gross human anatomy lab my friend and that cadaver was a real live walking talking human being a short time ago.

Incidentally Mrs. Brock was not only a great Ann Arbor Public Schools biology teacher and my biology teacher, but also a valued Ann Arbor Police Department volunteer for many years. Thanks Mrs. Brock. You, “Hoby Jack,” Ro and the rest of the volunteers ROCK!

At any rate, students, you do not want to find yourself in handcuffs or with a criminal record when you leave Ann Arbor, as that will adversely affect your ability to use your diploma and get a job. So here are a few things you should remember.

There is no problem that you will encounter, while here in college, that some other student has not had before. If you have a problem, reach out and get help. The university provides a number of counseling services for any kind of issue you might encounter. Check them out online or call the United Way 2-1-1 telephone line, for help figuring out who to call for help.

Problems usually do not just go away—catch problems while they are small, before they become overwhelming.

Students: remember handheld electronic devices or small valuable items are common targets for thieves. Stolen Apple products, for instance, are worth $100 in the dope house. So in regard to your valuables…Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors…you will hopefully see that again.

Even though this is America and you have the right to go almost anywhere you want when you want to…walk in groups at night for safety's sake.

The legal drinking age is 21 in the State of Michigan. A minor in possession—“MIP”—of alcohol violation is a misdemeanor.

Possession of marijuana, without a medical marijuana card, is a civil infraction and $25 fine if you get caught by the Ann Arbor Police. If any other police agency catches you, in like circumstances, it is a misdemeanor violation.

Possession of uncapped alcohol on the streets or consuming alcohol in public are both against city ordinance.

If you are having a noisy party, do not think the police are just going to go away if you fail to open the door when they knock. The police have experienced this before and have fill-in-the-blank search warrants and judges on board to sign them. Open the door or it may come flying off the hinges, while your sound amplification equipment and party favors find their way to the Ann Arbor Police Department property room as evidence—and everyone underage and drinking at the party is going home with an MIP ticket. If you are drinking mixed drinks at a party, use caution. Those drinks are about 90 percent alcohol and that can lead to serious lapses in judgment, unconsciousness and even death. Ladies, please be especially careful in this regard, because many of the sexual assaults in the city are “acquaintance” or “date rape” situations that involve excessive alcohol or drug consumption.

Please use the trash receptacles around town. Do not litter our streets and sidewalks with Solo cups.

Ann Arbor is called the “City of Trees.” The trees, bushes, shrubs and grass in the city do not need watering; so do not confuse them with a urinal.

Finally, remember your college years are something really special and will make memories to last a lifetime. Make sure those are fond memories and welcome to a great community.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for



Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Another good article, Rich. I am amazed by the negative comments I'm seeing here, if you don't like the man's writing, then don't read the article!!!! DUHHHHH!

Tex Treeder

Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

So we should only post positive comments on all articles?

Jim Walker

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Hilarious, THANKS. Jim Walker, Ann Arbor


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

If I were an incoming student, I would find this article condescending and insulting. The patronizing tone is unnecessary, and treating 18-22 year-olds like they are all idiots is part of the reason they are so unwilling to cooperate with police in the first place. It's also inaccurate. There is not a mixed drink anywhere close to 180 proof.


Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.

Have you met any of the recent undergrads. Makes you wonder who can't get in here. They are a scary mix of naive and lame.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

The best thing to do is break the law in the dorms. Just tell the housing people how sorry you are and they will let you off. Sometimes you might have to make a bulletin board or write an apology letter, but that's about all that happens in the dorms.

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

We need to just disband the police department and let the citizens police themselves, avoid everything mentioned in this article Lol!!!


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

how 'bout the cops just leavin' 'em alone and let 'em have fun...arrest record...yeah more like padding the city coffers and police pensions


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

who shall cast the first stone?im sure none of ann arbor police never had a beer under 21.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Good article, Rich, as always. Glad the AAPD are here to help!

Boo Radley

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

Mock Rich and his column if you like, but I noted these two articles also this week .... These are the types of things that will cause the U-M and A2 police admins to really step up their focus on these future leaders. "7 people found trespassing in Michigan Stadium with alcohol and marijuana" "Move-in day sees almost twice as many intoxicated U-M students needing medical treatment as 2012"


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 9:18 a.m.

get real rich.prosecutor hasnt applied citys "cival infraction $25 marijuana ticket since the 80,s they choose the criminal state law.

Tex Treeder

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

Toe the line, kiddies, your patronizing local retired cop knows best. Be submissive to egos with a badge, and all will be well.

An Arborigine

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

Welcome and prepare to be prosecuted for petty alcohol or drug offenses!

Colorado Sun

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

A little bit over the top. Just like the two female off-duty AAPD officers who got pulled over coming back from a concert out-state and the driver attempted explaining they were two of AAPD's finest - which was duly noted in the drunk driving arrest report. Just like a certain A2 city prosecutor who was politely told by a WCSD deputy that he too must obey the laws of the Realm in response to his assertion during a DWI stop that he was the vaunted Ann Arbor city prosecutor just before being carted off to the U-M Public Safety Office Breathalyzer to give some incriminatory evidence. Love seeing law enforcement diligently enforcing those drunk driving laws in an even-handed manner.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

I'll take this opportunity to say that the age restriction for drinking being 21 is the problem with under age drinking... or should I say binge drinking... growing up with the age being 19 it quickly became boring and casually social - not something we had to sneak around to do... or worse drink to get wildly drunk and then venture out on the town. So many have commented already here that at the age 18 or 19 you are counted as an adult in so many other walks of life. Let's just legalize it already... oh, that too.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Mr. Rich Kinsey is quite out of touch. I for one am grateful that he is no longer a police officer in Ann Arbor or anywhere else. This is completely condescending and terrible legal advice. My best advice to younger people is to learn to lawyer up; police officers often lie to civilians to coerce compliance from them.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

Actually, I think Rich's advice is pretty sound. I have found myself in hot water or warm water on several occasions, in several states at several levels of sobriety. Usually things turned out pretty decent if I just did as instructed and let the cop go fry some bigger fish.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

They are called GSIs (Graduate Student Instructors) not TAs. Learn the lingo, dude!


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Here's an idea. Study. Usually keeps you out of trouble.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

"You may think you know the law, but I promise you the men and women with badges on their chests know it better and their minds are not dulled by the brain-cell inhibiting effects of alcohol, other chemicals or "medicines."" Not really, no. Cops on the street rarely care about the details of the law; they care about you showing them the degree of respect that they think strapping on a badge and a gun should automatically earn them. Whether you choose to indulge them is up to you.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

I found that quote laughable too. Just two hours ago I was waiting to cross Catherine on North Ingalls (I have a stop sign, Catherine doesn't) as were 3 people at the curb by the crosswalk, with a police car (with officer) parked on the curb behind me. He sat and did nothing as 3 cars blew through the crosswalk without stopping for the pedestrians to cross.....including the third car, which was another police car. So there are at least two officers in town that either don't know the law, or don't care to enforce it (or, as I suspect, just do it selectively when there's pressure to create revenue).


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

Women are not responsible for preventing their own rapes. Your article easily could have said: "Students, please be sure to use good judgment when engaging in sexual activity while consuming alcohol. An incapacitated person cannot legally consent to sex." This is why women overwhelmingly choose not to report rapes to police. If you put the responsibility for avoiding rape on them, you imply it is their fault when it happens. Unacceptable.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Would you guys like to rationalize rape culture a bit more or do you think that was sufficient?


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Rich also tells us to: "Lock it up, don't leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors" In reality, we should be able to leave our stuff anywhere we want and worst case, just go the big lost and found to pick it up, right? He should have written "Don't steal stuff" right? That's the way it is in Oz, right? On the other hand, I think his advice might just be T A D more practical than yours.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

Rapists don't follow the rules, obviously. It's better to be practical than politically correct.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

That still places an onus on women to avoid being assaulted, Sully. Rape and any other form of assault are 100% the fault of the perpetrator. The advice should be as aihweh described - "don't rape people" - not "don't get raped."


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

It's never the victims fault when they are raped, but I don't think Rich was implying that it is. He's just telling women to be careful and be aware of their surroundings in a situation that involves heavy drinking.

Ypsi Russell

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Your way does make it easier.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Loved the article. Lighten up people.


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

gofigure and longtime A2, I always enjoy Rich's articles. disgusting how many armchair critics there are who consistently read this article and then can only complain!! if you don't like Rich's efforts, then don't "frickin'" read them!!!!

Longtime A2

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

You and me both - loved the article This is good advice to share with your kids ( or any kids). Sounds like Rich was having fun with his Creative Writing skills

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3 p.m.

The best advice I have ever gotten when it comes to police officers is to acknowledge that a good many of them got into the business because they like to lord their power over others and therefore, the best approach is complete submission. Just do what they say with a cheerful "yes sir" or "yes ma'am". It doesn't hurt to know your rights too but it is important that even if one is in a situation where asserting one's rights is called for, it is important to do it in the most submissive and calm manner possible. It is tricky, to be sure, to be assertive while appearing submissive but it is a good skill to have.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

" "TA"—that's teaching assistant, freshman…learn the lingo, dud" I think it's hilarious that the article is telling freshmen to "learn the lingo", when the author doesn't even know the lingo himself. They aren't called "TAs" at U of M, they're called GSIs.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2 p.m.

"Instead of embarking on the greatest legal speech or tirade about constitutional law that you will ever live to regret—just go along with the officer's program." Yeah just do what the cops tell you to do or else! I am sure glad you are no longer on the force Rich.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

I'm sure the students are busy reading fun governor articles on

Bryan Ellinger

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

This is the most condescending work Rich has done to date. Any positive take-away incoming freshmen might have had to this "advice" is completely lost.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

And that's a high hurdle he cleared.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

That's right kids, this is America! If we don't even remotely like what you might do, we will punish you. We have no problem taking away people's freedom and/or ruining their lives. It seems to work so well for us.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Rich needs to lay off the hyperbole a bit. The police are there to protect and serve the community as a whole. That's a tough job, and there are many good men and women doing it. However, they are NOT your friends, especially if you are the target of their attention. They were Rich's friends, no doubt, but make no mistake: they are not yours. Nor are they always in the right. Because cops are only human: they get tired and make mistakes like anyone else. If you find yourself being asked incriminating questions by someone with a badge, you should ask "am I under arrest, officer?" If so, don't admit guilt, and ask politely to talk to a lawyer when possible. Since the article is also a bit light on actual advice, here's a bit more. When it comes to alcohol: don't drink in public and stay off the sidewalk. Having a beer in your dorm room with your roommate is one thing, having 10 of your friends over for a beer is another. When at parties, stick to beer rather than mixed drinks, and remember that your body cannot process more than 1-2 drinks an hour. Don't drive home, take the bus. Leave any party that seems to be getting out of control. Also, if you just don't want to drink - grab a red Solo cup and fill it with water: chances are nobody's going to ask what's in it.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

I spent a few hours in the campus area last weekend. What I thought was a sudden thunderous headache turned out to be music blasting from a house 'round the corner. I kinda remember doing that myself back in the stone age.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

I always thought the MIP ticketing was an important source of revenue for the AAPD, much like speeding tickets.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

In other words, stay on campus. If you don't do whatever the Ann Arbor cops tell you, or if you try to talk to them at all, they WILL arrest you on whatever charges they can make up, handcuff you and prosecutor Mackie will inflate the charges leaving you with a permanent criminal record.

Jack Gladney

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Grade: C- Sorry, Skippy. You're not writing a paper for Mrs. Barkley's 10th grade English. Lose some of the rhetorical hyperbole and resubmit this by Friday at 5 pm for a reconsideration of your grade.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

"Don't break the law, wait until you're 21 to drink." Get real, most didn't make it thru Junior High with trying drinking. Dream if you wish, just don't confuse it with reality.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

I feel that the patronizing, mocking tone of parts of this article are a bit over the top; also, the column headline might deter a timorous grad student from seeking a Masters in International Policy.


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Oh lighten up you'll live longer.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Don't break the law, wait until you're 21 to drink.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

Why? If you can be ARRESTED and tried as an adult for anything you do, how is it that alcohol is the ONLY thing you are not considered an adult in and the crime is called MINOR in possession. You can vote, go to war, sign a contract, play the lottery. be arrested, but you can NOT have a beer legally. It is another example of why people have no respect for laws (the same as the prohibition against marijuana). When I became an ADULT, I made the decision to be an adult, including drinking alcohol.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 10:41 a.m.

Good article. Great advice to the little darlings . . . While it is true that hard alcohol can be distilled to 90%, it is thereafter "watered down" to 45%. Saves lives and simultaneously doubles the profit of the distiller. BATF regulations cap alcohol content at 45%. An exception is moonshine a/k/a "white lightening" or simply "shine." Any of you old timers ever run into any 'shine in this county?

Rich Kinsey

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Good point I meant 90% liquor--of various proofs. Thanks for the clarification. Rich


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

@GoNavy- You would not want to drink anything that was made from 100% ethanol, even if it was watered down. In order to extract the last 5% water that is left after distillation, one must use toxic solvents and small amounts of such impurities may remain in the 100% ethanol.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

So.....tell me about 151 rum, pineywoodsguy, or Everclear


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is barrel proofed at 106. That equate to 53% alcohol. It can be found at your slightly better than average retailer.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Hey sailor! What you say about alcohol sucking the water out of everything it touches is very true. Why would you speculate that I was making this up? My info is available on-line at the various law libraries. Check this out: Alcohol proof in the United States is defined as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume. Consequently, 100-proof whiskey contains 50% alcohol by volume; 86-proof whiskey contains 43% alcohol. Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR Section 5.37. . . Fair winds and following seas . . .


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

Old Grand Dad


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

Are you just making this up? First of all, it is absolutely possible to manufacture 100% ethanol (not just 90%). 100% pure ethanol is usually "watered down" not to save lives and double profit of the distiller, but because it's almost impossible for a human to consume 100% ethanol (it sucks all of the water out of everything it touches). As for BATF regulations, you can regularly buy overproof alcohol almost anywhere. Bacardi 151? Bookers? Right off the top of my head, those are 75% and 65% ABV right there. Not sure where you're getting your information from.