The following is a statement issued on the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Facebook page:
September has been an extremely hard month for Mendocino County.
If the wildfires in our County being the worst in recorded history wasn’t distressing enough, crimes like the one that occurred yesterday, September 27, 2020, also reflect some of the worst criminal activity our County has seen. (You can read the press release at https://us12.campaign-archive.com/…)
These issues are causing me to reach out to the people of Mendocino County.
As we move forward towards the future I believe it is time we
reexamine where Mendocino County is going with several of these
issues. Recently we learned of an incident where fire personnel have been threatened, intimidated and ordered by illegal marijuana growers to water their marijuana crops with water tenders, which have been dedicated to the fire suppression efforts. There has also been theft of water supply systems that have been put in place to draw water for fire suppression efforts in the field, thus cutting response times to get more water to the fire lines.
Even more concerning to me, as we further investigate the kidnapping and robbery case which began on the Covelo Road, we learned these men were planning on murdering deputies if they were discovered and detained. These subjects were not residents of Mendocino County, coming from the state of Nevada and Riverside County California. However, they were drawn here by the lure of easy money. Monies that are funding the problems we are experiencing now. We see this time and time again. People from outside of Mendocino County and well outside of the law are continually drawn here like a moth to a flame.
The suspects, in this case, were equipped with military-grade weapons, and body armor. They had planned to open fire on deputies with these weapons. Our brave men and women who serve Mendocino County aren’t paid to be murdered. I will not stand by and allow this to happen.
I fear robberies, murder and constant threat to human life will become the new normal for Mendocino County if we don’t try to address the problem now. I have grown weary of hearing marijuana is a victimless crime. If this were true, we would not be dealing with murders and robberies clearly tied to marijuana. We can clearly see criminals lured by greed, and greed, in turn, leads to a marked increase in violence.
Anything causing this much violence must be stopped.
I have grown weary of hearing the marijuana trade is providing an economic base for our county. I don’t believe this. This falsehood is reflective in our County’s general fund budget. The multibillion-dollar industry has provided us no financial benefit in taxes however has continued the social degradation combined with damage to the environment. The violence has become too much for our county to carry. Now is the time to stop pretending the illegal marijuana trade is a good thing.
I can’t count the number of calls we receive from residents in our rural areas who are tired of being intimidated and are tired of sheltering in their homes while armed subjects roam vast areas of the county protecting their crops. Gunfire is heard all night in the rural areas within our county. It is being used as a constant warning to anyone who would venture out of their homes in the evening and night.
The Round Valley area is approximately 19 square miles. Our best estimation is there are over one million marijuana plants cultivated in Round Valley every year. Round Valley is approximately 0.5% of the total landmass of Mendocino County. This is completely out of hand.
The market has been so saturated we can’t possibly expect the legal market could support this much marijuana. My estimation is less than 1 percent of the marijuana produced in Mendocino County is for the legal market.
I continue to support legal marijuana cultivation in Mendocino County as the laws are clear in California. I applaud those who strive to build this emerging market. We owe it to the folks working in this emergent industry to protect them as well.
The people involved in the illegal market must be dealt with in order to provide safety for our county. This industry has run wild with little to no enforcement against those who will continue to murder, rob and intimidate. We must take a hard look at the systems in place, we must look with honestly and recognize these systems aren’t working.
Recent changes in legislation, with little to no planning to deal with the consequences, are placing all rural counties at risk. While the state fails to address the illegal marijuana problem, we are tasked with unfunded mandates, which take away from the work we should be doing.
Simply changing the law does not stop people from being victimized. We are in a strange time where we have forgotten about the rights of our victims, and the good people in our communities. It is clear everyone knows their rights, however, many have forgotten their responsibilities.
I will be taking a much harder line on those who choose to work in the black market. The future of our county is dependent on the decisions we make today.
Staffing and personnel have always been an issue for Mendocino County. While other departments have grown at a staggering pace, the Sheriff’s Office has the same number of patrol personnel that we had when I was born, 51 years ago. This has to be dealt with. The safety of our citizens demands it.
I am asking all residents of Mendocino County to stand with me and with our Board of Supervisors to give this problem top priority. Our Board of Supervisors has shown time and time again they support public safety.
We all need to stand together to secure the personnel needed to truly combat this problem. We simply need the support of our communities to say enough is enough.
I will be moving more personnel into the Detectives Bureau as well as the Marijuana Enforcement Unit, however, these personnel will leave a void in the patrol force if we don’t begin some growth in our numbers.
Mendocino County has always been resilient and strong, our pioneering spirit is unmatched. We can deal with this problem if we have the support of our communities.
I know our Board of Supervisors agrees with me that all Mendocino County residents deserve a better quality of life. I’m asking each of you to contact your Supervisor by reaching out to them on social media or just tag them in a comment below. Let them know you stand with us in wanting all of us to live in a safer community.