Police presence was heavy in Round Valley this last weekend after Mexican Independence Day Celebrations started off with a bang the night of Friday, September 16, 2023 when revelers took to downtown Covelo where an estimated thirty vehicles participated in a sideshow burning rubber and doing donuts in the town center.
Personnel from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol converged on the area for the rest of the weekend making over a dozen arrests, engaging in at least one vehicle pursuit, and receiving air support from a CHP helicopter out of Redding.
Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall told us the night of Friday, September 15 marked the beginning of Mexican Independence Day celebrations. That night, Round Valley High School’s football team squared off with Potter Valley bringing an influx of vehicles to the valley.
When the game got out, the exodus of attendees intersected with approximately 30 vehicles driven by revelers, some lifted trucks with Mexican flags flying out the back, bringing gridlock to a town of just over 1,000 people.
Attempts to keep traffic flowing were disrupted by what CHP Garberville’s Public Information Officer Jonathan Clevenger described as “a crowd of approximately 250 people which gathered in downtown Covelo as 30 plus vehicles were engaged in reckless driving as well as sideshow activity (illegal and dangerous display or automotive stunts).”
This information from Officer Clevenger provides clarity to our initial reporting on Friday night’s sideshow informed by real-time scanner traffic that put the number of vehicles between 200-300.
MCSO’s Lieutenant Quincy Cromer told us the occasion brought “numerous reports of subjects throwing items at patrol vehicles.” That night, deputies assisted CHP in a vehicle pursuit.
These behaviors prompted a significant law enforcement response that night. MCSO’s Lieutenant Quincy Cromer told us a lieutenant, a sergeant, six deputies, and Sheriff Kendall himself deployed to Covelo to quell the scene.
Officer Clevenger added that CHP personnel also deployed to Round Valley to assist in “dispersing the crowd” after which officers “conducted numerous traffic stops resulting in the four DUI arrests and the recovery of two stolen firearms as the result of a traffic stop. Five vehicles were impounded and/or stored.”
Part of MCSO’s convoy was a literal paddy wagon to transport anyone arrested to the Mendocino County Jail. By the night’s end, the van was full of offenders. One person was arrested for carrying a loaded/stolen firearm, four people were arrested for public intoxication, and one was arrested for possession of controlled substances.
As the sun rose on Saturday, September 16, intel suggested “the reckless driving behavior and sideshow activity would continue,” Officer Clevenger told us. In response, “CHP, MCSO and Round Valley Tribal Police worked together to provide an increased law enforcement presence in the area.”
Officer Clevenger said, “A CHP helicopter from Northern Division in Redding did respond to the Covelo area on Saturday night. The helicopter landed and remained in the area for a couple of hours before returning to Redding.”
He added that the CHP’s enforcement efforts netted six people for DUI even though a second sideshow never came to fruition.
Lieutenant Cromer said a team of one sergeant, six deputies, and one jail van staffed by a number of corrections deputies remained in Round Valley between Saturday night and Sunday morning. One person was arrested for public intoxication, one was arrested for drug paraphernalia, and one was arrested for driving with a suspended license and an out-of-town warrant.
Ultimately, Officer Clevengers said CHP’s motivation for these enforcement efforts “was to prevent sideshow activity, reckless driving, drunk driving, and any potential injury or death resulting from this behavior.”
Sheriff Kendall described the weekend as a “perfect storm” that brought a lot of people into Round Valley requiring a “measured response” that essentially “depleted the entire county of resources.”