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