Prop 64

California Proposition 64- Captain Steve Watson

Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will go before voters on November 8. Prop 64 permits adult recreational use, commercial cultivation, manufacturing, transportation and sales. We stand united and strongly opposed to Proposition 64. Please join law enforcement associations, educators, and other organizations across the state in emphatically stating, “They got it wrong, again!”

Regardless of your stance on legalization, or belief the end of “cannabis prohibition” is inevitable, Proposition 64 is not the answer for California. We believe this special interest-driven initiative is ill-timed, short-sighted, and irresponsible. Proposition 64 is patently profit-motivated and puts what many would label “greed weed” before the best interests of the public.

Proposition 64 does not protect our children.

Young people who smoke today’s highly potent marijuana may be rewiring their brains. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes legalizing marijuana noting cannabis can be “very harmful to adolescent health and development.” Research indicates there may be a causal link between marijuana use and an increase in serious mental health issues among children, such as triggering the onset and intensifying the symptoms of schizophrenia.  Mental health professionals in Humboldt County have noted a rise in acute disorders among children to which some ascribe to marijuana exposure. According to Dr. Garry Eagles, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, “In Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, roughly 1 in 5 students, or 20.3%, is receiving some form of special education support.  The participation rate in our two counties is almost double the state-wide average for special education of 10.4%.”

Potent edibles attractively packaged like goodies pose a danger to our children. One medical center in Colorado recently reported their hospital has seen a 51% increase in the number of children 18 years and younger being treated in its emergency rooms for marijuana-related conditions over the past two years. A Pueblo hospital recently shared statistics reporting nearly half of babies born in that hospital during one month tested positive for THC—the main psychoactive component in cannabis.

Proposition 64 does not do enough to protect our highways.

Stoned drivers are a risk to all drivers. Legalization in other states has resulted in more DUI drivers and a significant increase in deadly crashes. According to recent research released by the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety, fatal vehicle collisions involving marijuana-impaired drivers have doubled in Washington State since legalization in 2012.  Colorado has also seen a spike in marijuana-related traffic fatalities and impaired drivers. Under Proposition 64, California can expect to see the same trend.

California currently has no established DUI testing standard for stoned driving and Proposition 64’s proponents failed to include one in their measure. Responsible governance and common sense would prescribe that a DUI testing standard be in place before legalization.

Proposition 64 does not do enough to protect the public’s health and welfare.

When you consider California’s expansive campaign against Big Tobacco, Proposition 64 appears blatantly hypocritical and counters much of the progress California has made to improve public health. How can you have a public health policy that vilifies tobacco use but implicitly encourages folks to smoke a joint?

Post-legalization, some Colorado prosecutors have described seeing an increase in marijuana connected crime including the last 10 of 15 drug-related murders in Aurora, according to a May 2016 report. But one has to look no further than the cannabis capital of the country, Humboldt County, to recognize the violence inextricably intertwined with the pot trade.  Humboldt County’s homicide rate has increased steadily since 2012 with 19 homicides so far this year. The county’s per-capita homicide rate (rate per 100,000 population) over the past two years was nearly double that of the state’s mean rate.  Most of these homicides are believed to be drug-related.  Ten of 15 cases in 2015 involved drugs according to the Humboldt County Chief Deputy Coroner, and Sheriff Mike Downey publically attributed “most” of the homicides his office investigated in 2014 to their connection with “marijuana and other drugs.”

As the new “Wild West Green Rush” intensifies with legalization, an increase in marijuana-related violent crimes, DUI fatalities, and public nuisance complaints can be predicted–negatively impacting public health and safety, quality of life, tourism and businesses. Proposition 64 is the wrong initiative, at the wrong time, for the wrong motive. We urge patience so Californians can make a more informed and responsible decision.  Let’s be smart, wait on legalization, and allow time for California to watch and learn from other states’ post-legalization woes.

If we were to brand Proposition 64 after a popular cannabis strain, we’d dub it “Trainwreck.” Vote NO on 64.   

Dr. Fred Van Vleck, Superintendent of Eureka Public Schools

Michael Downey, Sheriff of Humboldt County

William Damiano, Chief of Probation, Humboldt County

Bret Smith, Chief of Police, Ferndale

Andrew Mills, Chief of Police, Eureka

William Honsal, Undersheriff, Humboldt County

Brian Stephens, Captain, Eueka Police Department

Steve Watson, author and Captain, Eureka Police Department

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The Racial Divide

The tension in our nation between the black community and the police is palpable. It feels like one bad incident and cities will burn…again.  Recently Elizabeth (Liz) Smith, member of the Eureka Chapter of the NAACP and Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods, had a cup of coffee with me to discuss issues of race, policing and justice.  Both of us felt we should lead a discussion locally.

In late August Liz and I assembled a small group of police officers and people of color. We held a private function where we broke bread, threw the cards on the table and had open, honest and sincere dialogue. (Thank you Redwood Capital Bank and the Ingomar Club.) The level of openness at this initial meeting is debatable, but I saw a group of smart, dedicated professional people (community and police) who were direct, honest and open about their perceptions and experience. Each person listened intently to one another seeking to understand. The discussion was enlightening, powerful and humbling.

If we stop here we have failed. We must push on to a place where all people are respected and feel safe.  A place where we reach toward the high ideals of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

Over the upcoming year, the NAACP and EPD will host a broader community meeting to discuss race, policing and justice. Eureka, we can show the world how love works.  We can meet and respectfully discuss tough topics, listen to each other and create a path forward, together. A path not determined by political party, but rather a highway of compassionate discourse and understanding, fairness and hope.

Monday, January 16, 2017, is MLK day. Members of the NAACP and EPD will stand for justice by marching together from EPD to the Adorni Center. There, we can celebrate Dr. King and continue to pursue his ideals. In a small way fulfill his dream.  When protestors in Selma, Alabama, crested the bridge in 1965, peaceful protesters were met by riot police with tear gas and night sticks.  Here we can dim that vision of travesty, honoring the memory of civil rights advocates by marching arm-in-arm as we crest the 5th Street hill walking toward the courthouse.

Lastly, we can mentor. The Boys & Girls Club needs responsible adults who are willing to serve as positive guides to kids, many are people of color, and help them succeed. Eureka this is your opportunity to help heal the racial divide. I would also invite people of color to mentor EPD. Teach us. Help us navigate the turbulence of policing a free society where people of color often feel singled out for enforcement and are disenfranchised from government.  Teach us to understand fairness and aide our implementation of procedural justice through fairness.

Then, just maybe, Eureka can demonstrate to the world what a just and free society looks like. Peace, civility and hope can be palpable also.

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Painted in Blue

A poem hangs on my office wall titled Painted in Blue. It was written by the daughter of a police officer trying to grapple with the notion of her father working as a gang sergeant and dealing a violent culture daily, yet protecting the family from seeing the reality he lived.  She wrote it as a way of processing her feelings and sorting her emotions.  We, I, forget that working in this profession affects more than just us.  It’s also hard on our families, spouses and kids.  Not only do they worry about not seeing us ever again, but they also worry about the damage it brings to our souls, emotions, our very essence.   painted in blue

When my daughter Rachel saw the picture of Amira De Guzman, (below) she felt Amira’s pain and wrote the following:

After what happened last week (murder of SDPD officer JD DeGuzman) I have been reflecting a lot. I am so sad that JD’s life was taken from him. I’m sad for Kelly and I’m sad for his friends on GST and throughout the department. It is a horrible loss that they will feel painfully every time they go to work.  amira.deguzman

But I am most sad for JD’s daughter, Amira. My heart aches for her because I know there is no greater love on earth than a young girl’s love for her police officer father. She will never again get to hug her daddy in full uniform, and no embrace will ever live up to that. I know from experience.

 I cry every time I see that picture of her clutching the flag from his coffin because I know exactly what she is reaching for. I know the pride, comfort, safety she felt every time she hugged her Daddy, feeling that bullet proof vest under her embrace. I know that is the only thing in the world she wants right now. You’d think Kevlar and metal buttons and badges would be uncomfortable things to lean your weight against but it is truly comforting beyond description. I know that little girl would give up anything to hug her daddy one more time in full uniform.

I know how much he meant to her because I know how much you mean to me. There is no greater love than the love a little girl has for her daddy in uniform. She lost him but she will ALWAYS be able to say she is the daughter of a cop and I know she will find pride and comfort again in that soon.

I am more proud of you than words could ever express. There is no sum of money and no fancy title that I’d ever trade for your badge. I hope you know that. Love you 💙

I hope each of us are taking the time to love, comfort and talk to our family’s during this time of national turmoil. They need us as much as we need the support of our communities.


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EPD Leadership Plan

The essence of community policing is for the police to work with, and police from, the perspective of the community in the most professional way possible. Part of this means making decision to transform police organizations to be transparent, fair and just.  EPD has worked tirelessly over the past three years to make this transition happen in a pervasive and structural manner that outlives any one person or generation of police officers.  This Leadership Plan is the next step to embed community policing into the bedrock of this department.

Creating this roadmap or Leadership Plan took more than a year.  We started by studying where we were, and sought input from officers, detectives and sergeants.  Next we posted an online survey (see attached) analyzing the data and interpreting it for our use.  EPD held two focus group session, one with local businesses and another open to all.  EPD received important feedback and information along the way.  Finally the information was discussed with the Chief’s Advisory Panel (police oversite) and given to city council and the city manager.  The Leadership Plan is presented to you here.

How the Leadership Plan affects you.  One of the things learned in the survey was that community members wanted greater contact with and access to patrol officers.  Their desire is to problem solve together.  EPD is working on a plan to assign officers to neighborhoods, provide email access to community members then provide officers time to work with community members on issues of importance.

This is a great police department, one filled with compassionate and talented people.  We are learning, growing and improving rapidly.  If you are interested in how this great city is policed, then I invite you to read the attachments below and  help EPD be community oriented. In the end we will all be better for it.

Thank you to those who took the time to give us feedback.

Leadershipplan.1  LEadershipPlanning.DataPP



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Thank You!

To the many Eurekans who gave selflessly to send EPD officers to Dallas to represent you as Texans lay five dedicated public servants to rest…Thank You! You gave so sacrificially I was able to send three officers, not two.  You have not only honored the men and women who police here in Eureka, but the 12 wounded and five deceased officers in Dallas.  I cannot adequately express my gratitude for your generosity.

EPD is committed to you and we appreciate your support of us. One of our janitors gave even though she has little.  Many gave anonymously.  Some underwrote airfare, hotels and others sent flowers and coffee cards.  Some of you just walked up and handed me money for the officers.  You know who you are.  For those who cannot give and send well wishes, kind thoughts and your prayers, they are appreciated just as much.  All of EPD  knows it, sees it, feels it, appreciates it. It is truly overwhelming

If interested you can watch their trip on EPD Facebook.

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Dallas PD…Fit to Live

As Chief of Police in Eureka, and more importantly a person wearing a blue uniform, I am heart broken and saddened by the cowardly act of race-baiting extremists assassinating police officers at a Black Lives Matter march. If the purpose of your act of terror was to cause a race war…it won’t work. Shooting 12 police officers and killing five strikes at the core of what we have become as a nation.  If the police must worry about snipers killing them while protecting the constitutional rights of others, then we will destroy the very democracy so many have sacrificed so dearly for.  Eureka, we are at a crossroad.  What kind of nation/community will we be?  One that devolves into hating and killing one another or one that sacrifices following Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?  “There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” (MLK, 1963)

When you become a police officer you know one day you could lose your life or be severely injured serving others. You accept that risk because justice and freedom are so dear, so precious and so eternally true, they are worth dying for. The Dallas police officers, and thousands nationwide, just like Dr. King, thought that serving fellow man was worth the risk. The officers and their families also paid a heavy price. They were fit to live, because as most police officers, they were willing to die.

The Eureka Police Department will push forward, working with the NAACP and our community to ensure justice and uphold freedom. Do Black Lives Matter? Unequivocally yes! Not in a flippant way that diminishes the meaning of the struggle black individuals have experienced, but in a genuine recognition of centuries of prejudice and abuse. Black Lives Matter to me personally and professionally.  So do the men and women who sacrifice so much to wear blue.

So, where do we go from here? Just as some want to paint all black people as criminals, so extremists want to de-humanize all police officers.  This is the result. That way one can shoot uniforms from a distance, not men or women with wives, children, mothers and fathers.  These extremists want the abolition of the police, or to have a purely ineffective and reactive police force, happy with no proactive efforts to prevent, reduce and control crime.  They look for the police to be subservient, not public servants.  This will not happen.

Policing nationwide will lick our collective wounds and continue to protect, serve and partner with all segments of this great Nation. EPD will redouble its efforts of inclusion, looking at our blind spots of unconscious bias and yet aggressively route crime where it exists. Eureka is on the right track to public health and safety.  Now is not time to de-police or not work with the community. Nor is it time to create fear in the minds of communities of color.  It’s time to improve, include and understand great ideas take sacrifice and putting self aside for the greater good.

EPD will send officers to Dallas for the funeral of its officers. Please pray for peace in Dallas and if you would like to help defray the cost to our offices for attending the funeral please get a hold of Mary Kirby at (707) 441-4095 or

Eureka, be fit to live!

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The Boy Who Cried Wolf

False panic alarms are problematic. EPD responded to 137 panic alarms in the last year. Of the 137 panic alarms, EPD took 5 reports so 132 of the alarms were false or accidental. In other words 96.4% of all panic alarms were false.  EPD dispatches three officers to each panic alarm as it is an emergency call for service. Panic alarms, often called stick up alarms, are for things like armed robbery or violence in progress.

Of the false panic alarms in Eureka, 19 business accounted for 54% of all false alarms. According to Community Development Director, Rob Holmlund, there are about 2,267 businesses with a permit in Eureka. Of those 25% are home businesses and 80% have five or fewer employees (450 businesses).  That leaves 450 +/- businesses with five or more employees.  Based on those numbers 4.3% of all businesses are responsible for 54% of false panic alarms.  So…what are we going to do about it?

  • EPD will continue to respond to panic and burglar alarms.
  • EPD is working with the City to reform and clean up the false alarm ordinance.
  • EPD is writing a letter to the abusers of the panic alarm system and suggesting they fix the problem: install covers, color for recognition, move the alarm button to secure location, two step trigger, or discipline employees who abuse the alarm.

So when the boy who cried wolf too many times screams help when the wolf truly at the door, EPD wants you to know we are still coming code 3.  You need to know you are hurting yourself and this fabulous community.

So the business with a record 24 false alarms (18% of the total)…lets fix the problem.

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Tipping Point

In Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he points to small changes that can have an enormous impact. Once those changes reach a Tipping Point they accelerate resulting in amazement. Gladwell gives the three rules for the tipping point: contagiousness; the fact that little causes can have big effects; and change happens in one moment. For a good easy to read synopsis of the Tipping Point please see the attached link. Gladwell.

EPD, we are at a tipping point. There is a contagious epidemic and you’ve gotten the bug. As a team we identified the number of guns in the hands of criminals as a high policing priority. You have gone after illegal guns with vigor. Violence associated with illegally possessed guns is unacceptable. We will drive it to a tipping point.  Illegal guns will continue to be a top policing priority. Street level gun crime infrequently comes from those legally entitled to possess guns.  It most often comes from those prohibited from possessing firearms. Guns This month alone, EPD has taken 20 guns off the street and out of the hands of criminals, drug addicts and the mentally ill.  Your work is stellar; your dedication impressive.  You’ve earned the communities respect. Many police agencies our size don’t proactively seize this many guns in a year!

Now, the community, gun stores and gun enthusiasts can help you keep all of us safer. They can lock up their guns. When leaving the business or house, put guns away.  There is a simple way to prevent gun theft. Hide it. Lock it. Keep it. Never leave guns unattended. Hide them, you can make sure they are not visible. Lock them up, buy a gun safe. That way you can keep them. It your right. We don’t want guns in the hands of criminals, drug addicts and the mentally ill. Each of us must do our part.  EPD keep doing yours.

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Chasing the Dragon

Is someone you care for heading down the path of drug or substance abuse? Do you know a kid who is smoking Cannabis or dabbing, and as a result struggling with addiction? Don’t just watch this self-destruction, do something.  Please, sit down with them and watch this video produced by the FBI and DEA.  It’s worthwhile. Perhaps it will cause one or two to seek help.

Humboldt, we have an epidemic of substance abuse of Heroin, Meth, MDMA, Cocaine, alcohol and marijuana and it costs us dearly.  No judgement or condemnation, just concern and desire to improve the lives of those in pain.  If after watching this video you want help, please call EPD and we will connect you to those who can help. (707) 441-4060.

Warning: It is a mature and serious topic. Consider the age of those watching as it can be raw footage.  Chasing the Dragon

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Trimmigrants Needed

Chief, we have a suspicious death in Palco Marsh. A middle aged man is dead.  He had been involved in a confrontation earlier in the day and EPD was there to investigate it as a suspicious death.  It was zero dark 30, so I got dressed and headed into work.  I walked into the marsh from the north 40 parking lot to an area being held as a crime scene as detectives and crime scene specialists combed the scene for clues.  There was an eerie glow of fires throughout the marsh and dark spots that resembled black holes of space, where clumps of bushes and trees shielded people screaming out of apparent torment. Mental or physical anguish, it was impossible to tell.  One officer asked me if I was scared.  Of course not, I retorted. I am the Chief and a veteran cop who has seen it all. Inside, I felt like I was a participant in a B rated horror flick.  I know Chuck has a chainsaw somewhere down here.

When I found the sergeant he briefed me on the death. He pointed to the area where the man was found deceased. I knew the guy.  His self-proclaimed nickname was Hillbilly. Hillbilly not surprisingly hailed from the south and came here to trim.  He told me, as many other homeless have, they came to trim, but got stranded here after being stiffed by unscrupulous growers.  He later became addicted to heroin and eventually, having nothing left, lived in the marsh. Stranded…addicted…living in the marsh, a story I would hear repeated often.

EPD analysis showed there were five types of homeless in the marsh. Those running into a rough time fiscally. A stack of bills got to them and life spiraled out of control.  They found help quickly thanks to DHHS, Betty, the Rescue Mission, St Vincent DePaul, the Veteran Center and others. The mentally ill. A tough group to manage and help, but Eureka and Humboldt County are leading the way with MIST and the repurposed MAC.  Some are finding help and stability along the way.  Then the drug and alcohol addicted, those who need personal reform get it when they are ready. There are criminal element, those who want nothing to do with societal control, and are here to victimize others, including the homeless.  Finally there are Trimmigrants.  Those who have come to Humboldt/Eureka to work in the Marijuana industry.  This last group arrives from all over the world due to our reputation in the industry. Many desire to live outside of the culture of lawfulness and the rule of law and select a place that in fosters this lifestyle.  Others are just idealistic, goofy kids who want the hippy lifestyle, smoke some pot and make a little cash.  They became the focus of our effort as the others were finding help.

Trimmers needed.  EPD took out an advertisement in Craigslist.  The goal of the ad was to reduce one of the five groups.  We wanted to shut off the supply chain of people who potentially get stuck, or worse become a victim in our community.

Over 100 people answered the ad the first weekend. They are still calling and leaving voice mails today. An assistant called each person back and asked them to send a picture of themselves so we knew they were not law enforcement.  Many responded by sending photos and some sent driver’s licenses. Once they took a step to further their involvement, EPD sent them the attached letter (letter).  In the letter there were articles hyper linked to news stories demonstrating the reality of some grows and this industry.  The articles were firsthand accounts of victimization from sex slavery to human trafficking and murder. articles

We thought about having them come to a predesignated location, detain and run each person for warrants and or probation and parole status. Arrest all of those with warrants and report those on probation and parole.  We chose to save that for a future operation, as we would rather just not have them here at all. It may however be a job in the pipeline. Hint, Hint.

Their response.  One felt it was a “constitutional right to grow, trim and sell Marijuana.”  Back to civics class for her. One called from Australia to tell us they were on the way and can’t wait to work. Stay down under…please.

Others were more poignant: “I am sorry. It was a random thought and one I regret.” Another, “I had no idea of some of that stuff that goes on.  Thank you for sparing me and looking out for us.”

Maybe, just maybe a few won’t come and the rest will tell their friends not to trim in Humboldt. EPD does care for them and this community and are willing to do what’s necessary to protect this awesome community.  We are also watching those who come here for illegal purposes.  Hint, Hint. Trimmer

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