Yesterday, the North Coast Journal’s Linda Stansberry covered the “coffee with the Captains” meet and greet at Velluntini’s Bakery in Henderson Center. What an excellent way for the Eureka Police Department to reach out to community members, and to hear their concerns.
What was striking about Stansberry’s coverage was how intelligent and forward thinking Captain Watson came across. On the flip side, Captain Stephens almost seemed like incompetent manager who hides in the corner. In fact, the only mention of him came as the caption under a photo: “Capt. Brian Stevens of the Eureka Police Department takes notes.”
Captain Watson, however, came across as engaging and truly committed to working with the community to solve “community” problems. When addressing a local business owner complaining about the high and mentally ill people who disrupt his business in Old Town, Captain Watson seemed to be not only understanding of the issues, but he seemed to be actually looking toward real world solutions. He addressed the business owners concerns, and then went right into addressing an Henderson Center employees questions. From the NCJ:
“Unfortunately, you can’t arrest your way out of these problems,” he said, adding that Proposition 47 will eventually translate into expanded services for the mentally ill and addicted, ultimately reducing crime. “Prop. 47 has allowed us to concentrate on the worst of the worst, and keep them behind bars. Burglary, for example, is an automatic felony. We’ve seen a 40 percent drop in burglaries over the last month.”
“[Proposition 47] is saving the state money, but it’s destroying our businesses,” said Mike Howard, who works near the bakery and has participated in the cleanup of several homeless camps. “I can’t walk with my kids down the boardwalk without there being old drunk dudes just laying there. We can’t spend money on attracting tourists if this is what they’re going to see when they get here.”
Referring to the issue of homelessness, Watson replied that raiding camps and moving people around just “creates displacement.”
We’ve heard many good things about Captain Watson. From personal experience, many members of our staff have found him to be the kind of cop Eureka needs. Good job on picking him Chief Mills. Unfortunately, Captain Stephens was also chosen and his negatives far outweigh Captain Watson’s positives. In the end, we’ll call your promotions as a net negative. That being said, it’s still nice that at least one good apple was chosen.
(The Examiner holds Stephens responsible for the killing of Tommy McClain. His poor supervisory decisions and reckless behavior led to Tommy’s death)