L.A. is reported to have over 450 criminal street gangs with a combined membership of over 45,000 individuals. Per capita, as of 2012, there was 7.8 murders per 100,000 residents (last year the murder rate went down).
Eureka has a population of about 27,000 people. With 3 murders so far this year, our per capita rate of murder is 11.1 murders per 100,000 residents. That is over a 40% higher rate of murder in Eureka as compared with L.A.!
The most recent case on Harris and the murder of Father Freed have a common thread…a broken mental health system. Both of the suspects had been in and out of the justice system, were mentally ill, and were still allowed to walk the streets without much (if any) supervision.
Chief Mills and other law enforcement heads have tried spin the story of Father Freed’s murder as a result of bad jail policies. The fact is that cops, the Probation Department and the Department of Health and Human Services haven’t been adequately dealing with the huge number of severely mentally ill criminals in Humboldt. Whether it’s EPD not taking a mentally ill person to Sempervirens, or Probation not recommending mandatory mental health treatment as a condition of probation, the end result is that dangerous/unstable people are walking the streets of Eureka with no accountability.
The citizens of Eureka should be outraged with the lack of response regarding these glaring issues. Hopefully, it won’t continue to take horrendous murders and assaults for the decision makers to start trying to tackle the problem of severely dangerous mentally ill criminals in Humboldt. Instead of pointing fingers, leaders like Chief Mills should take a hard look at what their departments can do to help make this community safer.
Examiner staff also wonders about the policy change Chief Mills implemented regarding press releases. He stated that he wanted to create a “positive” image of Eureka:
That sentiment leaves us with a big question mark above our heads. With 3 murders in the first 3 months of the year, it stands to reason that there may be more tragedy. If we have 2-3 more murders, that would put us in the top 25 cities for per capita homocide. Above 3 murders, and we will jump into the top ten worst cities per capita for being killed (along with the likes of Oakland, Flint, Detroit, etc.).
Is keeping the public uninformed on how dangerous their city is a good idea? We’ll leave that up to you to decide. But one things for certain, Mills sentiment seems to resemble polishing a turd.