Prison Realignment Part III: Police Chief Advises Don’t Put Christmas Tree In Window


Redding Police Department Chief Robert Paoletti.

Redding Police Department Chief Robert Paoletti.

Merry Christmas, California, the crime rate is rising! These not-so-glad tidings come to you courtesy of Redding Chief of Police Robert Paoletti, who along with his cohorts across the state has access to crime statistics unavailable to us mere civilians.

According to the numbers the chiefs are looking at, both property crime and violent crime in California rose more than 10 percent in 2015. Paoletti has no problem attributing some of the increase to Prop 47, the statewide initiative passed by voters in 2014 that reduced charges for nonviolent, “non-serious” crimes such as possession of heroin and methamphetamine from felonies to misdemeanors.

To say Paoletti is concerned about the way Prop 47 is playing out in Redding would be a dramatic understatement. Although property crime has stabilized statistically, he believes it’s under-reported because police response times are up and victims simply don’t report crime, because they believe police aren’t going to come.

Perhaps more ominously, violent crime is on the rise, as the drug-addicted criminal element that stalks Redding’s streets preys upon weaker members of the transient homeless community.

Last week, I sat down with Paoletti in his office to discuss Shasta County’s ongoing crime wave and its relationship to AB 109 prison realignment, as well as sentencing reform measures such as Prop 47 and the recently passed Prop 57. An 18-year veteran of the Stockton Police Department, Paoletti assumed command of RPD in 2011, just as AB 109 went into effect.

Prison realignment was the state’s response to a federal court ruling ordering the reduction of unconstitutionally overcrowded state prison system.

To reduce the prison population, the state released tens of thousands of supposedly lower risk, nonviolent offenders and transferred responsibility for incarcerating and supervising higher risk nonviolent offenders from the state prison system to the state’s 58 county jails. Furthermore, offenders convicted of nonviolent crimes are now sentenced to county jail instead of prison.

Unfortunately, many of the state’s county jails were already unconstitutionally overcrowded when AB 109 took effect, including Shasta County’s. Moreover, while the state prison population has been reduced, saving billions of dollars from the state budget in the process, those savings have only been partially transferred to the counties, which are now charged with rehabilitating convicted offenders in addition to incarcerating them.

For Shasta County and other counties with limited jail capacity, the result has been a sustained spike in the property crime rate. While some offenders have indeed been rehabilitated, too many are running wild in the streets, because they know there’s no room in the jail to hold them. Prop 47 and Prop 57 have further complicated matters by taking away the stick used to force drug addicts into recovery: the threat of a jail sentence.

Combine all that with an opium/heroin epidemic that makes Redding look more like an Appalachian hillbilly hellhole than a pleasant mid-sized retirement community in California, and you can begin to understand why Paoletti has spent much of his tenure warning citizens to lock their doors and shutter their windows because they’re not living in the Redding they used to know.

I began our conversation by asking about the increased public vigilance that’s become necessary in the wake of prison realignment and sentencing reform.

What followed was 90 minutes of nonstop elaboration about what’s working with prison realignment in Shasta County, and what’s not, from the perspective of the police department.

His comments are presented here edited for length and clarity. I’ve kept my own involvement confined to providing the occasional transition in his thought process. He’s got a lot on mind, but if you’re wondering what’s going through the heads of police chiefs across California these days, this is a great place to start.

I asked Paoletti to send me pictures of himself, but he sent pictures of his RPD crew instead. He's in there somewhere.

I asked Paoletti to send me pictures of himself, but he sent pictures of his RPD crew instead. He’s in there somewhere.

“I think time will tell whether or not AB 109 was good law or bad law,” he began. “Conceptually, can local communities deal with lower level offenders better than the mass prison system of the state of California? Perhaps. The challenge is, with AB 109 specifically, they shifted it too fast. They didn’t say, hey, in five years, these are going to become county responsibilities instead of state responsibilities. They passed it and said, hey, in November, they’re yours.”

Which happened to be the very month he took office.

“They also didn’t transition all of the funds from the state of California to the counties to deal with all of those programs,” he continued, noting that some progress has been made. “Over time, over the last five years, I’ve seen Shasta County develop programs like the Day Reporting Center, the Community Corrections Center and things that are allowing us to have more success on the right side of court.”

Picture an offender’s journey through the justice system as a basketball court, with the left side being the arrest by police, mid-court being an appearance before a judge, and the right side the slam dunk of rehabilitation. If only it was that easy.

“The problem is that AB 109 has shifted so much responsibility to the jail, there’s no ramification for not showing up to court,” he said. “Problem No. 1 that AB 109 created was the full jail and the result of that is we have a failure to appear problem in Shasta County courts, which means we can’t get people to the rehabilitation programs we’ve put into place. That is a huge problem right now and that’s what we were trying to solve by adding additional bed space with the action plan we put together.”

It’s not that Paoletti doesn’t believe in the mission. He’s just frustrated he doesn’t have all the tools to complete it.

“I think the criminal justice system has an opportunity, a responsibility to give people an opportunity to change. If they don’t want to take that opportunity, that’s the person you hold in jail, until they make that decision. We can arrest them all we want; we can’t make that decision to change for them. That’s what the jail beds should be used for. The problem is we don’t have enough of jail beds to convince these people to make that decision, and we are emboldening the criminal element, because there is no ramification for doing wrong anymore.”

According to RPD statistics, violent crime and property crime have risen since AB 109 into effect.

According to RPD statistics, violent crime and property crime have risen since AB 109 went into effect.

Even though violent and property crime rates have risen since AB 109 went into effect in 2011, Paoletti oversees a department that hasn’t fully recovered from the staffing cuts necessitated by the 2007-’08 economic recession. Nevertheless, the crime rate appeared to be leveling off before the passage of AB 47 in 2014.

“With Prop 47 making drugs misdemeanors, I expected to see an increase in property crime because drug users, drug addicts, need to steal to support their habits,” Paoletti explained. “We didn’t have a huge increase in property crime last year statistically. Anecdotally, from talking to citizens, we’ve had an increase in property crime, but they’re not making the reports.

“What we’ve seen is a big spike in that I was hoping would not happen is on the violent crime side. That violent crime spike we’re seeing, both in aggravated assaults and homicides, are people in high-risk lifestyles, that are out there in that drug culture. The homeless, drug-addicted culture where they’re victimizing each other. We’ve had four robberies in three days. That may be no big deal for cities down south, but that’s unheard of for Redding.

“Typically in the past what has driven Redding’s violent crime rate is aggravated assault. What has driven that aggravated assault rate is domestic violence. So you were safe on the street but people were in danger in their homes.

“Now, we’re starting to see more violence in the streets. Our last two homicides were people that lived in high-risk lifestyles, either the drug lifestyle or homelessness, which often coincide. We’re starting to see more aggravated assaults, more homeless-on-homeless crimes, drug-addict on drug-addict crimes, where they’re actually stealing and beating each other up, taking each other’s stuff. The type of violent crime is shifting and that has me very concerned.”

Who You Calling A Recidivist?

Detailed crime statistics prepared by the state attorney general’s office have a two-year time lag, so Paoletti relies on more timely data collected locally by the department as well as statewide by the California Police Chiefs Association.

“CalChiefs gather crime stats that departments send in and they release it faster,” he said. “What CalChiefs is reporting [for 2015] is the state of California is seeing about a 10 percent increase in violent crime; property crime is up about 11 percent. Prop 47 has had a very negative effect on crime rate throughout the state.”

He disagrees with the method the state uses to compute recidivism, the rate at which criminals reoffend and wind up back behind bars. It’s a matter of some academic debate. In order to be a recidivist in the eyes of the state, the re-offender must be convicted of the new crime with which they have been charged. Paoletti believes it should be based on the re-arrest alone.

“The state likes to say the success of AB 109 should be based on recidivism,” he said. “I think it should be based on crime rate, because I serve victims. Crime rate measures victimization. The state, in order in my opinion to make AB 109 appear more successful, changed the definition of recidivism. Instead of recidivism being re-arrest, now it requires a conviction.

“Well, if the people never show up to court—we have people in Shasta County Superior Court with 60, 70 pending cases but they never show up to court to get convicted—you don’t have a recidivist because their definition says it requires a conviction.”

A hardcore component of 404 repeat offenders accounted for 37 percent of all arrests in Redding last year.

A hardcore component of 404 repeat offenders accounted for 37 percent of all arrests in Redding last year.

The graph of 2015 Redding repeat offenders shown above was put together by RPD statistician Mike Murphy and illustrates in dramatic fashion what Paoletti is talking about.

The numbers may not make sense at first, because it seems impossible, for example, that the 91 people arrested on the far right of the chart had already been arrested 10 previous times, for a total of 1191 arrests between them. The arc drawn over all the offenders arrested with five or more previous arrests covers 404 offenders who accounted for 37 percent of Redding’s total arrests.

“That shows that we have this huge problem with lack of jail bed space because we’re arresting the same people over and over and over again and they never show up to court,” Paoletti said. “When we look at the crimes that accounts for, that’s drug arrests, property crimes and warrant arrests because they didn’t show up to court. Those are the three big ones, along with addiction, drugs and alcohol addiction issues.”

The numbers are depressing, but they also offer a clue on which way to proceed. Paoletti works closely with the probation department, and plans to more closely identify these 404 repeat offenders to determine if they’re already in the probation department’s supervised population. If they are, then maybe he can force them to get the help they need.

“If one of those 404 people based on that assessment is in the low-risk group, maybe they need to bump them up to more intense supervision with a GPS bracelet where we can keep better track of them and give them more deterrence,” he said. “Probation does the assessment, but once again, we’ve got to get them through the court process, to the right side of the court, to get them to probation, to influence any of the criminal justice programs that we have.”

One of the frustrating things for local officials involved with prison realignment, from the police department, to the sheriff’s office to the probation department to health and human services, is that the evidence-based rehabilitation programs that have been established in Shasta County since prison realignment went into effect are working—even if they suffer from capacity issues as well.

“If you look at the Day Reporting Center, they’ve had 69 graduates and their recidivism rate, their re-arrest rate, true recidivism, not re-conviction, is 14.7 percent,” Paotelli said. “That’s the worst 100 Shasta County offenders that are in that program at any one time. What I want to is get more people into what are our successful rehabilitation programs.”

His enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the reality on the ground.

“Still, if we can’t get them to court, we can’t get them to the programs,” he repeated, and continued to repeat throughout the interview. “That’s what AB 109 has done with jail compaction. It limits our ability to get people through the court process.”

Separating The Sheep From The Goats

Separating transient street criminals from the genuine homeless community is hampered by RPD’s decades-old computer system, which will soon benefit from a $2.5 to $2.7 million countywide computer system upgrade. Murphy, who is a part-time employee, explained that in order to create the reoffender graph, he used a 26-step process to extract the raw data and render it in an Excel spreadsheet—a task that can be accomplished in a few clicks with contemporary crime management systems.

In order to determine the extent of the criminal transient population, Murphy compiled data from arrest records on offenders who gave their address as transient, homeless, Good News Rescue Mission or general delivery. He discovered that there appears to be an increase in the number of transients detained that correlates with the crime rate increase since prison realignment went into effect in 2011.

While such figures may appear to bolster the claim by some locals that outsider criminal transients have descended upon Shasta County because the benefits are plentiful and the crime is easy, Paoletti, informed by his own experience and reports from officers in the field, paints a far more nuanced picture.

Some people come to Shasta County because it’s in California, and some people still see the Golden State as a land of opportunity. Others hail from neighboring Tehama, Lassen, Modoc, Trinity and Siskiyou counties, which don’t have Shasta County’s resources. It’s a mixed bag.

“The other day I left lunch and I saw one of my officers with three transients stopped, so I stopped to make sure she was safe,” he recounted. “And I talked to those transients, and I think they were from Michigan, Iowa—they were all from the Midwest. Even if you talk to the Good News Rescue Mission, they will tell you that homeless people come to California. They come to California because of the weather. I’m sorry, it’s tough to be homeless in Michigan, or Wyoming, where it’s minus 20.

“I went to a conference in San Diego, and San Diego’s downtown business association did a presentation and they count the homeless once a month. There’s 1400 homeless counted in the downtown San Diego business district, and 73 percent of them are not from California. So that’s very similar to the statistics that we came to [with Shasta County’s last homeless survey].

“Now whether this is a traveling band of not-settling-down young people, or whether they’re coming to California because California has the best services and climate, either way, HUD reports that one-third of the nation’s homeless population lives in the state of California, and they are coming to California.

“Whether they wind up in Redding, Sacramento or San Diego, you look at county seats across the state, the county seats are the ones struggling with the homeless population because that’s where the resources for the homeless are, so that’s where they naturally gravitate.

“During the marijuana grow season, I think our homeless population looks larger than it actually is, because you get the trimmers that come in for the pot grows that live like they’re homeless because they’re living in tents. They draw services from the charities but they’re actually here to work in the pot industry.”

He agreed with me that there appears to be a decrease in the number of trimmers traveling here since Shasta County banned outdoor medical marijuana cultivation in 2014. For Paoletti, the number of homeless who admit they’re struggling with addiction to hard drugs and/or mental illness is far more concerning than marijuana use.

“When we interviewed the homeless population, just over 50 percent self-admitted—to a police officer—that they were homeless because of drug addiction and mental illness. Shasta County is grossly short on mental health capacity and grossly short on drug treatment capacity.

“I’ve taken some criticism lately because I’m supporting a methadone clinic, or a medical assisted treatment facility, coming to Redding to deal with the heroin problem. Fifteen years ago, I would have said hell no, but things have changed to the point where drugs are a misdemeanor. We have to find other solutions for these problems because we just simply can’t arrest our way out these problems anymore.

“I understand the intent of Prop 47 to decriminalize an illness or an addiction, the problem is we took away a judge’s ability to order them to rehabilitation. What I think Prop 47 should have done is that if you get arrested for drugs, it’s a felony. If you complete a program and you stay clean for six months? Then that can be reduced to a misdemeanor. You just don’t reduce it to a misdemeanor to start with.”

Law enforcement officials in general have been critical of the state’s attempt to reclassify criminals as violent and nonviolent, particularly criminals who may have a violent past, but thanks to prison realignment and sentencing reform, no longer have it held against them.

“That’s the problem with AB 109, Prop 49 [and recently passed] Prop 57, it’s all based on their last incarceration offense,” Paoletti said. “It is not based on their total life of criminality. You could have a homicide suspect that served his time, got out and his current commitment offense is a burglary, they’re going to call him nonviolent when he’s not a nonviolent criminal.”

He’s not opposed to releasing criminals that are lower risk to the public—as long as someone he trusts is doing the risk assessment.

“If we do it, but not if the Department of Corrections does it. Now these early releases because of Prop 57 are all going to be in the hands of a panel by the California Department of Corrections, and they can release somebody with early credits based on population management—not on rehabilitation. Their focus right now is not on rehabilitation. Their focus is on population management, because of the lawsuits.”

Paoletti isn’t saying the entire homeless population is criminally malevolent. However, he does believe that many of transients seen loitering, aggressively panhandling and occasionally smash-and-grabbing from automobiles on Redding’s streets today are homeless either by choice or because they lack the mental capacity to comprehend their circumstance.

“Not every homeless person is committing a crime,” he said. “Not every one of our criminals is homeless. Some [non-criminal] homeless make people feel unsafe, because maybe they’re dirty or they smell or maybe they have a mental health problem. We need to vet out the criminals verses those that are less fortunate.

“Good News Rescue Mission does a good job, and they’re never full. There’s never an excuse for someone in Redding to be living on the street, other than the fact that they don’t want to deal with the rules that are in effect at Good News Rescue Mission.

“You come down to this resistive population that we’ve talked a lot about. We’ve called them will, won’t and can’t. Will take help, won’t take help, can’t take help because they don’t need it because of their mental illness. That resistive population is what you see on the street and that is your criminal element because those that are homeless that don’t choose to be go to these organizations to get help, so they’re not homeless.”

The County Has A Plan, It Just Needs The $$$

AB 109 legislation mandated that each county establish a Community Corrections Partnership comprised of all the public agencies responsible for administering and executing the county’s prison realignment plan. Paoletti sits on the CCP’s executive board, which meets roughly every month to discuss progress on the plan. Despite Paoletti’s concern with the ongoing crime wave, he’s proud of his work on the committee and the CCP’s accomplishments so far.

“The state law proscribes who’s going to be on that executive committee,” he said. “It’s the probation chief, the DA, the public defender, the sheriff, health and human services and a police chief, which there’s only two police chiefs in Shasta County, me and Anderson, and I got here first so I’m on the board.

“If you look at what has been put in place by [AB 109] funding, it opened the third floor of the jail that was closed because of budget. We created the Day Reporting Center and the Community Corrections Center. We have a housing component in the Community Corrections Center, so those homeless criminals can get housing. We have a jobs program. We have the Step-Up program with Shasta College, so they can get college units and earn jail credits for going to school. I think we’ve put a lot of good stuff in place. Where we’re struggling is getting people to the good things we’ve put in place.”

But—and you knew there was going to be a but—AB 109 funding is getting harder to come by, in part because conservative Shasta County juries have a long-standing tradition of sending criminals, violent and nonviolent, to prison.

“The second factor we’re struggling with right now is the state of California will punish you and decrease your allocation from the state if you still send too many people to prison,” Paoletti said. “Shasta County is still sending a lot of people to prison. We’re one of the few counties in the state that has double digit re-incarceration rates and we’re facing getting our CCP funding cut because of that.

“What we need to do, and I think we need to have some serious conversations about, is if we’re going to send someone back to prison, let’s send the right person back to prison. Let’s send the high-risk to reoffend back to prison, not the low-risk to reoffend.”

Per capita use of prescription opioid painkillers in Shasta County rivals that of the other rural areas in the United States.

Per capita use of prescription opioid painkillers in Shasta County rivals that of the other rural areas in the United States.

And right now in Shasta County, the criminals who are the most likely to reoffend enjoy a great deal of overlap with the drug-addicted transient community. The nationwide rural opiate/heroin epidemic appears to have gained a serious foothold in Redding. Paoletti has taken to pointing out in town hall meetings that our per capita opiate prescription level is akin to Kentucky’s.

“We haven’t found as much pills as we’ve found heroin,” he said. “Most of the pills we get are stolen, because people aren’t securing them in their homes. One of the major cases where we find them is with kids stealing from their grandparents. But there’s a lot of opium painkillers that are going into this community.”

He’s hopeful that the local pain management doctors who were shut down by the state of California two years ago may lower the amount of prescription opiates in the community. But it’s the return of heroin that has him really worried.

“I said five years ago on the radio when I got here, heroin’s coming. Now it’s here. The local drug task force doesn’t have the resources to catch them all. Mexico is now the second largest producer of heroin in the world behind Afghanistan and we are addicted to opioids.”

RPD’s proactive neighborhood police unit has successfully interdicted heroin sales at the Redding Inn, and is currently targeting the drug trade at other residential hotels, which also happen to harbor some of Redding’s poorest, most vulnerable citizens.

“Who lives in those hotels?” Poaletti asked rhetorically. “Our lowest income residents. If they’re not a drug user, they’re just poor, and they’re living in that drug-infested environment with all of these addicts. It lowers their quality of life as well as the business community that surrounds these hotels.”

Marijuana Verses Heroin Verses Methamphetamine

I asked Paoletti if separating marijuana use from heroin and methamphetamine abuse was difficult from a policing perspective, since there is some overlap among users, and cannabis critics continue to maintain marijuana is a gateway drug. Poaletti reiterated that marijuana is not among his primary concerns.

“It’s easy to separate,” he almost scoffed. “Heroin is heroin and meth is meth. The people act differently. I’ve been a cop for 24 years and I don’t think I’ve ever fought someone who was high on marijuana. I’ve fought a lot of drunks, but not anyone that I know of who was high on marijuana.

“Methamphetamine addicts are extremely, extremely paranoid, extremely, extremely strong, they don’t feel pain and they don’t get tired. That’s a hell of a person to have a fight with.

“Heroin addicts are more zombie-ish, they’re not heavy fighters unless they’re mixing heroin and methamphetamine together, which is even more dangerous because it increases the pain tolerance. Heroin addicts typically are desperate. Right now when we take away their drugs, they get a ticket. They’re still panicked because they know they got to go find more drugs or they’re going to get sick. Withdrawals from heroin are extremely, extremely painful.

“We’re dealing with three populations out there. What I worry about with marijuana as opposed to the other two is, I worry about driver safety. So don’t smoke and drive, it’s as bad if not worse than drinking and driving.

“I”m also worried that [because of Prop 64] people are going to get ticked off at the police department, because their neighbor is going to smoke on the couch, which is legal, the smell is going to hit their living room, and they’re going to call the police and complain, and the officers are going to go, ‘I’m sorry, but it’s legal,’ and then they’re going to yell at us because we’re not doing anything about it. Voters approved legalizing marijuana, you can smoke it on your couch.”

Prison realignment, sentencing reform and drug decriminalization are part of a much broader civil rights movement that aims to redress racial disparities caused by the disproportionate number of African Americans incarcerated for otherwise nonviolent offenses. I asked Paoletti where he stood on the wholesale legalization of all drugs, a measure which some drug wasr critics have touted as a solution to the problem.

“I see a nationwide movement, maybe, to legalize marijuana,” he said. “I don’t hear a lot of cry to legalize meth and heroin, nationwide. The idea behind decriminalizing these drugs is to treat it like an illness and not like a criminal behavior and I think there’s some validity to that, a little bit. Except for the fact that a lot of these people will only go to rehabilitation if ordered by a judge and we’ve removed that option, we’ve removed that order from the judge.”

The Long And Winding Road With No Steering Wheel

Paoletti has seen the results when the system works, when an offender his officers have arrested goes before a judge and is sentenced to jail time and then released to the probation department, where he or she must report to the Day Reporting Center daily, and begin the long road back to becoming a productive member of society.

“I went to a Day Reporting Center graduation recently, I think there was nine people,” he recalled. “Almost every single one of them said ‘I came to this program kicking and screaming and now I’m clean, I’m reunited with my family, I have my kids and I have a job.’”

“Well, focus on that ‘kicking and screaming’ part,” he emphasized. “If there’s no jail held over their head and no other option, and there’s no motivation for them to change, they’re going to continue to do drugs until the drugs kill them. I don’t think that’s the humane way society should look at it. We should do what we can to get them clean, into a job and reunited with their families, to give them an opportunity to have a normal successful life.”

For those who do get the proverbial second chance, it’s a long row to hoe.

“When you talk about rehabilitation, I don’t care if it’s from criminality or homelessness, you have to look at that roadway or pathway they have to go down,” he said. “It starts, I think, with a roof, because a homeless criminal is always going to commit crime.

“Then you have to look at, why do they commit crime? In criminology classes it’s called the criminogenic need. What’s the base causal thing, whether it’s drug addiction, mental health, bad upbringing. I had a Leave It To Beaver childhood, most of these offenders did not. You’ve gotta treat whatever it is, whether that’s with moral cognitive therapy or drug treatment or whether it’s treatment for schizophrenia, whatever the case may be. Then you have to give them an education that leads to a vocation that leads to a job.

“Now I just described a really long road that they have to walk and they have to make that choice to walk it. Well, if they start to veer off that road, what’s our steering wheel to get them back to that road? Jail. Well guess what? We’re driving down the road without a steering wheel right now because our jails are full.”

And we’re right back where we started. It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of the whole prison realignment experiment. It all sounds very nice in theory. What if it was actually fully funded, and the CCP actually got everything on its wish list? Could the citizens of Redding go back to not locking their doors at night?

“I think we can start heading that direction,” Paoletti said. “The fact of the matter is, Redding grew itself into a midsize California city and is dealing with midsize California city issues. I think Redding is always going to be challenged, because it’s not [just] a county seat, it’s a hub city. It is the hub city of the north state. It’s the only city in the north state, other than Chico, that has the type of resources that we have here.”

Paoletti served two tours in Iraq with the California Army National Guard. He's in this RPD picture somewhere, supporting the troops.

Paoletti served two tours in Iraq with the California Army National Guard. He’s in this RPD picture somewhere, supporting the troops.

It turned out I wasn’t the first person to ask Paoletti what would happen if RPD and Shasta County got full financial support for prison realignment and sentencing reform.

“I talked to a group the other day and they said, ‘Chief let’s say we could give you your dream of 142 cops and 23 community service officers. What do you think that would do for crime?’”

“I said initially I think that it would go up because we’d be capturing the crime that we’re missing now when the people figured out our customer service level was better. If you look at the plan that we put forward, it was personnel plus bed space plus mental health capacity. If the Aegis [methadone] Treatment Center comes into Redding and 400 people because of their medically assisted drug treatment aren’t committing crime anymore, I”m happy with that.

“Right now I’m very encouraged by the county opening the mental health outpatient center, I think that’s going to be a great resource for our officers, so that when people aren’t 5150, when they’re just not really right, we can say, ‘Hey, do you want to go to mental health and get some help?’ I’m OK with my guys becoming a taxi to take them there. It’s a resource, a tool in the toolbox. I still think we need a crisis stabilization unit. I still think we need a sobering center for people whose only crime is addiction.

“The problem is, most sobering centers are nonprofits. The one I was used to in Stockton isn’t there anymore because it lost its funding and it lost its location. But when somebody’s only crime is being under-the-influence, if we could take them there so that when they’re sober, we can engage them with drug treatment programs, that’s a huge plus for us.

“But there has to be an immediate link to a bed we can take them to,” he maintained. “One of the conversations I had with Aegis Treatment Centers when they were talking about coming down here is MediCal Drug funds it, for now, at least. I wanted to know that if one of my officers is talking to a heroin addict on the street, and the person says, ‘I”m tired of this, I want to change,’ and my officer throws him in the car and brings him to [Aegis], are you going to hand him three packets of paper and say come back in three weeks when MediCal Drug has gone through? Or are you going to start treating them that day and let the paperwork and money catch up. They assured me they will start treating them that day and let the paperwork catch up.

“Because when that person makes the decision to change … we need to be able to walk them to a van and take them immediately to a drug treatment center. Otherwise we’ve lost them.”

Naturally, some local folks aren’t exactly keen about a methadone clinic coming to town.

“There’s always a not-in-my-backyard,” Paoletti said. “I had a discussion with somebody, and they said we don’t want this methadone clinic—which I prefer to refer to as medically assisted treatment, because ‘methadone clinic’ has a negative connotation. They say if we do this, we’re going to attract everybody here to Redding.

“Well, my argument is they’re already here. Let’s treat them. We’ve got 70 people driving from Redding to [the Aegis clinic in] Chico everyday so they can be clean. … Seventy people that we know of. They’ve had up to 220 [Shasta County] clients at that Chico clinic, but they couldn’t make the drive. I think in the first couple of months [an Aegis clinic may be operating in Redding by February], they’re probably going to have up to 250 clients, and I think that’s aiming low. I think there’s going to be more.

“But that same person [who was against the methadone clinic] then says, hey look, now that pot’s legal, instead of letting Shasta Lake get all the money, we should open recreational marijuana sales things in Redding.

“So I said aren’t you afraid you’re going to bring all the potheads to Redding? And he said, they’re already here. And I said well isn’t that the same argument I said about the heroin clinic? And he’s like that’s different. And I said it’s not different. It’s not different.

“Let’s bring resources in. There’s absolutely zero cost in bringing in a medically assisted treatment center for heroin and opiate addiction. So why would we fight that coming when the arrest rate for their 400 clients in Chico is 6 percent? When 95 percent of their clients are housed? And they only generate 26 calls per service from the police department, and most of those are because the client comes in and is talking to the drug counselor and they might be suicidal that day.

“You’ll be surprised how many people have to walk into that clinic every day to get help to addiction to opium who are probably wearing a suit. Because not all of our opium addicts or heroin addicts are on the street. A lot of them are functional opium addicts who are addicted to pain killers. More people die nationwide from opiate painkillers than heroin.”

Stockton Verses Redding

There’s a certain segment of Redding that’s opposed to anyone who’s not from Redding and who therefore oppose Paoletti since he was born and raised in Lodi and spent 18 years on the Stockton PD before becoming chief here. So I asked Paoletti to describe the difference between policing a larger urban city like Stockton and a rural mid-sized city like Redding.

“When I was in Stockton when I grew up, we had 421 cops in Stockton, so we were able to be very proactive,” he said. “When I came to Redding we had 98 cops and we were very reactive. Our patrol officers respond to calls for service and they’re reactive to that. Their ability to be proactive, to find and solve problems in the community policing philosophy, is very limited because they’re tied to the radio and the next emergency call that’s coming in.

“Stockton is known for its violence, but the violence is between the gangs. It’s much less pointed at the cops. In Redding, especially with the methamphetamine community, that violence is pointed at the cops.

“These are rough fights, and we’ve been fortunate to win those fights. The last thing I ever want to do is give a speech at a funeral. We train our guys monthly in defensive tactics. We train them monthly at the range, so if they have to use a weapon, they’re accurate and can take care of what they need to. The biggest difference I see from Stockton to here is that instead of the violence being between the gangs, the violence is much more pointed at the cops.”

So, Shasta County doesn’t have a problem with criminal gangs?

“No, they’re not a big problem right now, but we have to be careful. The biggest runners of heroin in California are Sureños gang members, wherever you have heroin, you’re going to have Sureños.

“We are going to keep a close eye on our gang members here, but recent legislation is restricting the CalGang database and the hub that we operate off of. We may lose access to our CalGang database and I think that’s one of those things, when you talk about restrictions that are being put on law enforcement. If you’re a gang member and we’re tracking your criminality and [the state] is going to take away the system that we do that with, you’re hampering law enforcement again.

In any discussion of AB 109, the finger always points back toward the state, which got us in this mess in the first place.

“Just look at Mike (Murphy, the part-time RPD statistician). Just due to state legislation, he’s got six new reports a month he’s got to do. So they’re handing down, based on political reactiveness to what’s going on back east in Detroit, Chicago and all those other places, now they’re saying we need use of force reports, we need profiling reports, we need this, we need that.

“They’re tacking on more and more administrative work for the police department but they’re not sending any funds down to help us keep up with that administration. So Mike, being a part time employee, has six more reports he has to do every month now, but no more hours to get it done.

“Then I get letters from the Attorney General’s office constantly that I throw on Mike’s desk that say you’re late with this report. Well, no kidding we’re late. You give us more reports, I got a 1988 computer system, you know, it really is, it gets very frustrating, the stuff that gets handed down from Sacramento.”

I asked him if he AB 109 amounts to an unfunded mandate.

“Well, they are giving funds to the county, but it’s about a third of what they were spending. So they expect the counties to do it, but they don’t want to pass on the resources that were making it happen.

“They’re dinging us for sending too many people back to prison. And, it’s not just prison. That re-incarceration rate counts county jail. So even if we don’t send them back to prison and the judge gives them jail time, that counts to that re-incarceration rate that they want to punish us for. So basically what the Board of State and Community Corrections [the agency that disperses AB 109 funding to the counties] is doing with that money, is they’re punishing me for doing my job, and that job is to investigate crime, arrest criminals and hold them accountable. They want to punish us for doing our job.”

It’s a statewide problem that when combined with the controversy surrounding highly publicized police shootings of unarmed African Americans across the United States the past several years, makes recruiting new police officers difficult.

“Everybody’s having these problems,” Paoletti said, referring to his fellow chiefs across the state. “Right now, one of the biggest challenges in law enforcement is recruiting people who want to be cops. [Because of] the national negative rhetoric against police officers, the death rate of police officers killed by gunfire is up by more than 60 percent this year and the millennial generation is not looking at law enforcement as the occupation they want to go into.”

He saw a chart the other day indicating most people on probation are in the 18 to 25 age bracket. The average cop is in currently his or her mid-40s, and replacements are in short supply.

“It’s a confrontational, tough job. They’re in their late 40s, but the criminals are always 18 to 25. That’s tough when you’re in your mid 40s, and more prone to injury than guys that are 18 to 25 hyped up on methamphetamine. The average football player retires at the age of 35. Well, they only play 16 weeks a year and they only get hit hard on Sundays. My guys get hit hard every day.”

To add insult to injury, the state recently raised the retirement age for police from 50 to 57.

Tips To Stay Safe This Holiday Season

Because it’s the holiday season and people generally feel more generous toward the down-and-out, I asked Paotelli if it was OK to give money to that person spare-changing on the sidewalk outside the department store. He advised against it.

“If you’re going to give, give to the charities that help them,” he said. “Give to the Good News Rescue Mission. Give to Northern Valley Catholic Social Services. The Living Hope. When you hand them money on the street, chances are it’s going to support the drug trade and it’s going to get them their next fix. The charities are not going to go buy them heroin. Donate to them, don’t hand people money on the street.

“As far as personal safety, I know that Christmas tree looks good in the front window with all those packages but it looks good to that thief too. So unless you’ve got a doberman sleeping under that tree, I would suggest keeping the blinds closed or maybe moving it to a different room in the back of the house.”

“Plan your shopping trips,” he continued. “It amazes me that I did that whole town hall meeting on crime stats and opium, and the one thing a blogger picked up on was I was told the guys ‘to be the mule.’ The fact of the matter is, they’re going to be watching where people congregate for victims, and where we congregate during the holiday season is in the shopping centers.

“The criminal element is going to be there. They’re going to watch you carrying packages to your car and go into another store and then they steal the packages while you’re in there. Your trunk is not that safe either. So plan your shopping trips so you can carry the number of packages you can, and that’s why I said guys, you’ve got to go shopping with your spouses, you got to be the mule.”

If you’re single, bring along a friend. And, I might add, if you don’t have a friend, who are you Christmas shopping for?

“The hard part is, when I talk about crime prevention, some people say, you’re blaming us for the crime. I’m not. I’m telling you how to prevent it. You can ignore me if you want to but then don’t yell at me when you’re a victim. I’m telling you how not to be a victim of a crime. You can’t pack your car full of stuff, because theft from a motor vehicle is almost half our general larceny. It’s a completely and utterly preventable crime.”

And Then Things Got Personal

Several years ago, I was victimized by a convicted embezzler. Even though he pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $600,000, because he was considered a low-risk, nonviolent offender, he only spent one night in jail. Once released on probation, he kept right on embezzling, including burning me for several thousand dollars. He’s still out there doing it now. I asked Paoletti how common this was.

“What’s the deterrent?” he shrugged. “Same thing with the drugs and everything else. You’re not going to stay in jail, it’s full of the violent criminals. We just arrested a guy the other day for bank robbery and he got probation. For bank robbery! Because he didn’t show a gun, he imitated a gun.”

For the first time in the interview, Paoletti let his anger show.

“Look at what that guy did the other day [he was referring to a recent nonfatal officer-involved shooting]. He had an imitation gun, it looked just like a Sig Sauer P226, but we don’t get to inspect the gun before we shoot you when you point it at us. Look at the stress level he put on those officers. They had to shoot that guy. It’s not TV, we don’t high-five each other and go to the bar.”

Suicide-by-cop is very ugly and more common than most people realize, I agreed.

“We had three in one night!” he exclaimed. “We had three armed people asking the officers to kill them in one night, and the officers used restraint and didn’t kill a single one.

“The problem is the public only finds out about the ones we shoot. They don’t find about all the times the officers could have used lethal force. At last year’s [RPD] award ceremony, I gave awards to six different officers for incidents where they would have been justified for using lethal force, but they didn’t because of their good judgement. We don’t get credit for those.

“The ones that hit the paper are the ones where we have to shoot them. But I’m sorry, if you’re going to shoot up an apartment complex and come out and shoot at my officers, they’re going to take care of themselves and protect their citizenry.

“One of the reasons I love being a police chief and being in law enforcement altogether, and you can say the same thing about the military, is that it takes a very special person to run toward danger when others are running away, and put their lives on the line for people they’ve never even met and that’s what these guys do every day. To be able to hang around and be a part of that group of people means more than anything that I can even to express to you.”

Paoletti, a former motorcycle policeman and bonafide motorcycle nut, swears RPD rides American-made Harley-Davidsons because the Harely's wet cluch is superior to the dry clutch on the German-made BMWs favored by the CHP. As a fellow motorcycle enthusiast, I hope to discuss this with him at a later date.

Paoletti, a former motorcycle policeman and bonafide motorcycle nut, swears RPD rides American-made Harley-Davidsons because the Harely’s wet cluch is superior to the dry clutch on the German-made BMWs favored by the CHP. As a fellow motorcycle enthusiast, I hope to discuss this with him at a later date.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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68 Responses

  1. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    First post, and before anyone says a damned word, yes, I know it’s a freaking long story. But you should read it all anyway.

    • Yes, it’s long, but here online, there are no space restrictions. And we know that on A News, we have an audience of heavy readers.

      Just pace yourself, and read it as time allows. R.V. has provided some good information and insights here.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Well, now that I’ve spun through it again, I realize there’s a couple of graphs and one timely photo I could have added to break up that one really long section.

    • Karen Ball says:

      The chief says he has a 1988 computer system… this true?  Because we were told they new building had high tech installations, one would assume the computer system was a part of that?

  2. A. Jacoby says:

    I just couldn’t read it all . . . not ll at once, not in one sitting . . . . not if I wanted to absorb what was being said. So . . . I read it over the space of several hours and some parts I reread. . . . more than once. I particularly liked having the graphics.

    Long? Maybe! But important, informative, well written, . . . . all of the above.


    Thanks   . .

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Your welcome. How I did it was, I’ve been studying AB 109 for a couple of months, I know law enforcement has opposed it from the beginning, and I simply asked, so far, the Chief Deputy DA of Shasta County and the Chief of Police of Redding. I think they agree on what the problem is. As I move on through this series on Prison Realignment and Sentence Reform in Shasta County, I plan to involve all the heads of the numerous public and private agencies working on this issue.

  3. A. Jacoby says:

    BTW . . . In the past six months,  I’ve been given two prescriptions to hydrocodone. I always fill them because, well . . . “you never know if this might be the time you need it.” But I never take them because I hate the way they make me feel. So, all that to say this, THANK YOU, RPD, FOR INSTALLING  A DRUG DISPOSAL RECEPTACLE THAT IS CONVENIENT AND ACCESSIBLE 24/7!!

    Now, if we folks will just make ue of it!!!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Ethically and from a best practices standpoint, when dealing with any physician licensed to dispense drugs, you should always bring a current prescriptions list with you. At the VA, where I get my healthcare (I love it, btw) every doctor I see has instant access to my medical record including prescriptions. So I don’t have to bring a list of my prescriptions. Your insurance may vary! There are many many many interacting side effects between various medications, especially all those pills older folks have to take, and every doctor you see needs to see every medication you’re on.

  4. Frank Treadway says:

    Redding is extremely fortunate to have a forward thinking Chief. With the little resources he and his officers face, they are keeping Redding as safe as possible. While we cannot  resort to vigilantism, we can be vigil keepers of our block and make sure we have an email or phone connection to our neighbors.  Always call the RPD/Sheriff and don’t play cop. I’m forwarding this article to my city block neighbors.

  5. Rod says:

    Chief is right-on,  the Harley wet clutch is superior to the Beemer dry clutch.  I’ve used them both and the American-made bike has the best clutch.  The BMW charging system is a distant second too.

    Also….the latest drug numbers indicate that West Virginia received shipments of 780 million pills of Hydro and Oxy, both of which are synthetic opiates prescribed for pain relief.  The 6 year period in the report indicated 1,728 overdose deaths from those exact same American manufactured products consumed in the Appalachian hillbilly hellhole.  How can the Chief control corporate America?  He can’t because every entitlement and pension receiver in Shasta County is invested in the stocks of big pharma.  Sell more pills by death…we’ll make it up by volume.

    Stop comparing Shasta County to hell!

    If Chief were allowed to break heads rather than fluff comfy beds……..


    • Rod says:

      Just in case there’s any confusion here on what is the menace killing Americans…….No it’s not pot.

      Xanax anybody?


    • Rod says:

      I don’t write as well as I would like to.  RV you’ve got the ability to convey information combined with a small touch of opinion,  I particularly like this article.  You and the Chief have made headway into understanding a serious dilemma.

      My link that didn’t pass muster……..Corporate America is mass producing death by pills.  Thousands and thousands of people are overdosing daily.  The actual horror of the deal is—entitlement and pension receivers are invested in big pharma at new record highs.  The death rate continues to increase.

      What do you get when combining cocaine with Xanax?

      This evening at 6:00 the big 3 cities of Shasta County will stall and delay everything concerning cannabis availability to help save lives from synthetic drugs and eventual death.  “We need more time.” “The facts aren’t yet clear.”  “Marijuana availability increases crime”  All lies!

      Chief has never fought with a MJ user….can anyone in Shasta County even read and comprehend?



  6. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Behold!  In-depth local reporting of the sort that was commonplace in local newspapers decades ago.

    I don’t agree with everything that Chief Poletti says, but I have newfound respect for his points of view.  I’m convinced the plan he supports is on-target and theoretically feasible. Alas…money.

    I still maintain that this all flows from the 2008-2012 California budget crisis.  Gov. Brown’s budget package solutions included revenue-producing mechanisms, but conservative representatives from inland California refused to go along, stymieing the 2/3 requirement to pass the budget.  So Brown responded by punting expensive responsibilities back to the counties.  Vindictive?  Maybe.  Probably.  Politics?  Definitely.

    This is where I think the citizens of Redding and Shasta County refuse to accept reality: They want less control by the state, but they don’t want to pay for it.  Shasta County and all its surrounding counties receive far more money from Sacramento than we pay into the state coffers.  Redding has a local sales tax rate well below the median for cities in this state, which means we have the luxury of being able to increase our sales tax and spend it on the plan that Poletti supports—it’s not already earmarked.  We could increase our sales tax to 8% and spend all the additional revenue on public safety if we wanted to.  Or, if we were fiscally responsible, we could increase it to 8%, spend half on public safety (= the 0.25% increase of the measure that just failed) and the other half on unfunded pension liabilities (deal killer—Reddingites have too much pent-up resentment regarding public pensions).

    The conventional wisdom about the recent failure to pass a tax hike for public safety is that the citizens didn’t trust the City Council enough to pass a tax increase that wasn’t earmarked, which would require a 2/3 majority as opposed to the simple majority required by the failed measure.

    Fine.  Put a measure for a public-safety-earmarked tax increase on the ballot—one requiring a 2/3 majority—and watch that fail, too.  The truth: What locals say on the surface, consistent with a certain political orthodoxy, is that their taxes are already too high.  Sub-surface, what that really means is that they resent that our revenue-sucking straw in the state’s milkshake is now smaller.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I just got in this huge disagreement with my Canadian girlfriend about whether this “pull yourself up by your boot straps attitude” exists in Canada as much as it does in the US.

    • JeffG says:


      As for Shasta County not paying its fair share, let me ask how much revenue does Shasta County receive from the California PUC for every truck, bus, train, and plane that passes through (or over) Shasta County?  $0    Yet California taxes interstate carriers based on the percentage of miles traveled in California (and the majority of these miles occur in rural counties that “don’t pay their share”).

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        First, I don’t know where you get the idea that Shasta County gets $0 from MCP fees collected by DMV (not PUC).  Those fees go into the general fund.  Shasta County gets its share.  And Shasta County pays for approximately 0% of the costs of building and maintaining Interstate 5.   The federal government pays for 90% and the state for the rest, and that means taxpayers from the big cities are paying for nearly all of it.  We don’t even pay for our rural bridges on County roads to be replaced—about 80% of that is ultimately paid for by big-city taxpayers.

        Second, most of those trucks, buses, trains and planes are passing through Shasta County rather than stopping here for a reason.  The demand for them to be moving interstate commerce isn’t generated by us.  It’s generated by them city folks.  Whatever fees California derives from the MCP program, it derives because people north and south of us are generating the demand for transport of goods.

        • JeffG says:

          I’m not talking about (relatively) miniscule DMV & fuel tax fees (which pay for roads), I’m talking about the additional income tax CA charges to airlines, trains, busses, & trucks with a California Nexus.  These are assessed based on the mileage they traveled in state as a percentage of their total miles.

  7. cheyenne says:

    Nice job, RV.  I read the whole article mostly shaking my head.  The Redding in your article does not reflect the Redding I knew when I left ten years ago.  Also when I talk to my relatives in Trinity County, except for Hayfork, they don’t seem to have the same problems as Redding.  Like the chief said Redding is the hub city.

    One positive, not all consider it a positive, is that finally California may do a better job on marijuana issues.  I have seen, up close and personal, how legalizing marijuana in Colorado has affected the state.  Actually not much.  Crime didn’t rise or decrease because of legalization.  What it did, as one sheriff stated “We can go after real crime now”.  There has been an uptick in meth arrests and I would attribute that to LE not having to put so many resources into MJ policing.  As far as MJ the state has found illegal grows in the south state and they are now looking at those who are abusing MMJ personal grows.  But pretty much Colorado doesn’t have to spend their LE money on MJ enforcement.

    In Colorado Springs they are building a $11 million homeless shelter.  Here in Cheyenne the police chief has recommended a “Wet Shelter” for those homeless that won’ follow the rules instead of putting them in jail.  But not all is peachy for the homeless in Colorado.  Boulder has made a homeless policy that the homeless who need a shelter for the night must make reservations.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      When is Shasta County going to figure out how much revenue they’re conceding? That’s why I asked the chief the difference between marijuana, meth and heroin.

  8. Rod says:

    OK, i’m deleted because of posting a link?

    Please explain.


  9. Common Sense says:

    Excellent work on this Article!……..The Chief points out some very important things…..and the one common thing that I keep seeing….over and over….is the fact that not only the city….the county and other agencies could use more funding…the city residents have voiced their opinion on No new Sales Taxes!……It is quite obvious that the AB109 and some of the other measures have not benefitted our community one inch…..The Chief notes that Marijuana is not the issue he is worried about other than the fact that there will be more DUI’s….I can agree with that….the evidence from other states confirms this…..but there is also a device that will be available to all Police Depts soon that test “Specifically” for Marijuana( they are testing it in police depts right now in the valley….and once those machines are available and the state comes up with acceptable limits then this will be no different than a breathalyzer for Alcohol….The Problem with the Drugs is there is an Opiate problem…..I am not aware of anyone stoned that that broke through some ones window at 3am to steal money for another dime bag!….Motivation….well that might well be another topic for discussion.

    There appears to be factual evidence that in states where Marijuana is legal that prescriptions written for Opiates in those states are Down…..perhaps that is why the RX industry threw millions into the Anti Legalization efforts?

    Not many want to hear it….but the legalization and taxing of not only dispensaries in the city of Redding and allowing and taxing the commercial growing facilities would bring in Millions of Dollars… which the Police Dept and the Sheriffs Dept and the Services Departments should be the beneficiaries! There are plenty of areas that the commercial growing could be done in that are NOT around Schools….Churches……Parks etc…..but that would take a change of Beliefs…….so if anyone has a BETTER idea on how to get More money into the system for use by Police/service agencies etc….please….share it!! I am ALL Ears…..

    Nothing changes….unless we change…….change our rigid beliefs……open our minds up to options……does anyone think this whole crime thing is going to get better on its own?….Will the Millions of tax dollars solve all Reddings problems?….No……but then I don’t know anyone that is not better off with having a couple extra Million on their bank account!……and if we are always going to have problems it sure seems that more money available to address those problems would help….Not hurt?

    So my question to the city of Redding and Shasta County officials would be this…..If… guys say NO not in my Backyard….we don’t want Marijuana tax money in the sum of millions…..What Specific PLAN do you have to Offset that Lost Opportunity to fund so many things??……if it Benefits the Community to have more money…If it Benefits the Police Dept to have more officers on the streets….then please explain again Why you have said no?


    • Rod says:

      “No, not in my backyard.”  chuckle,chuckle, hardy har har!!!

      In private conversations, not in my backyard, rarely gets said.  In public while chasing political endorsements and votes, it gets said too often.  Here’s a clue…..never believe a politician.

      Public people are phony.  They’re after the applause and recognition.  The same people in private, get their attitudes adjusted, immediately.  Makes no difference the topic, they pursue the fame.

      “Yes, in my backyard.”  Is simple and easy to say. It incorporates change that is currently happening in California and America.  Educated minds are mastering dogma.

      The rate of change being extracted from politicians is very frustrating.  They’re safer when they do nothing.  They expect us cannabis advocates to be grateful for anything they offer, after all, they’re right and I’m the menace to be controlled.



    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I agree that we should  not ignore the potential revenue from marijuana.

  10. Dick says:

    Great article, thanks RV and Doni for writing, and publishing it 🙂

  11. Beverly Stafford says:

    Whoa!  My hat’s off to all our cops.  Can’t imagine wanting the job but am so glad it’s the chosen profession of our men and women in blue.    Nice job, R.V., and thanks to Chief Paoletti for his time.

  12. Karen C says:

    Wow, that article is great, finally the chief got it all out.  I get tired of hearing people slamming RPD about the crime in Redding, so here you go folks, read, and learn.  Then do what RPD has been teaching you for years about personal safety.  I cannot believe people still leave their cars unlocked, and full of their stuff, even wallets, cell phones and laptops. Many still do not secure their homes, or pay attention what is going on around them.  Remember this; the first time it happens to you, you are a victim.  The second time it happens to you, you are a volunteer.  Don’t invite trouble in, keep it out.  Lock it up, keep it out of site, get car and home alarms, motion sensor lights, and follow all the suggestions made about personal safety.  You can download lots of info on the internet.  If you are thinking of owning g a gun, take classes and get your CCW permit.  Take advanced classes and become a responsible weapons owner. Teach your children as you learn.  This is only going to get worse as they grow into adults. 


    We have been warned for the past twenty plus years about what was coming, there has been time to prepare, Security gets expensive and most cannot do it all at once.  Little by little, acquire what you need to protect your home and family.  But most of all, get smart!  

    Thank you RV for this effort,  excellent writing and interviewing.  Obviously, the Chief was comfortable with you.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Shasta County has the highest per-capita rates of handgun ownership and issuance of CCW permits in California.  That hasn’t stopped the violent crime rate from going up—we have the third-highest per-capita violent crime rate in the state.  Shasta County’s gun-related death rate is significantly higher than California’s. More than 75% of those gun-related deaths are suicides—the county’s suicide rate is roughly twice that of the state’s overall.  That’s a lot of violent crime and gun-related deaths, despite all the crime deterrence and protection supposedly afforded by guns.  Then, of course, there are the semi-regular accidents where local toddlers get ahold of guns and shoot themselves.

      Balance all of that against the very few times where you hear about people in Shasta County successfully defending themselves against a crime with a concealed weapon—I challenge anyone to identify just three such stories from the newspaper over the past five years.  Concealed weapons are all about feeling safer, not being safer.

      • JeffG says:

        Having the highest CCW rate in California is kinda like having the tallest building in Wichita — big whoop.  California has 1 CCW holder for every ~500 residents; Utah has 1 for every 15.   And since just about everywhere 500 people can assemble in California is a “gun free zone”, you’re unlikely to have a legally armed citizen in your midst.


        It’s funny, but I think most anti-gun folks would probably make great CCW holders because they’re more likely to treat it as a serious responsibility, burden really, than “tacticool” fanatics…

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        You may well be right, Steve.  However, I do feel safer with my .380 locked and cocked, will continue to carry it, and hope that I never have to pull the trigger other than at the range.

      • Common Sense says:

        Steve, I am not following your logic here on the CCW topic……why would the large number of people having CCW’s in our area have anything to do with the violent crime rate?…..The purpose of having a CCW is to have the Ability, If Needed ,to Protect oneself and one’s Family etc….not to be out there policing the streets trying to be a vigilante!

        You stated that 75% of those gun related deaths are suicides…..again…what does this have to do with CCW permit holders?… has Everything to do with a failed mental health system….that is obvious.And more than anything….you have to look at the Core Issue at play that ALL these drug addicts have…..It’s a disconnect problem……they don’t feel connected to other people…. or the community etc…..Help people feel accepted… people feel they matter and put a roof over their heads then you have a place to start…..the work starts AFTER that….

        Steve if you yourself don’t have a CCW, then how would you know the feelings one may actually have while carrying their handgun? Unless you are Psychic or something? And if you are then you would know…. that yes, I feel much more comfortable when I am carrying with my CCW in my wallet……I feel safer…..indeed!……And Yes it does make a holder of a CCW feel safer when out in that parking lot at the store at night/shopping etc…..But that is the WHOLE point……to feel safer…..and have an Option to Protect one’s self if needed….as a last resort……and Thank God we have a Sheriff that understands this and Issues CCW’s to anyone that is determined to be of sound mind and pass the F.B.I background check AND complete the training……It’s not people with CCW’s that anyone needs to worry about…..its that addict that will do Anything for money for his next fix as mentioned in the Article……its the Heroin addict….the meth head….not the pot smokers that you need to be wary of……when’s the last time a pot head pulled a knife on anyone for some bud?…… a hard core drug addict will do anything to get his or her next fix…hence just another reason why people go and get their CCW’s!

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          The argument is frequently made that an armed citizenry is a crime deterrent.  Criminals go after low-hanging fruit.  If they know that a high percentage of potential victims are armed (goes the logic), they’ll find some other place to ply their trade.  If that argument were true, as the CCW numbers in Shasta County mushroomed over the last decade, you would predict violent crime rates to drop.  The opposite has occurred.

          More guns means more gun violence.  It’s a fact thats the single largest predictor of being a victim of gun violence is having a gun in your home.  Yes, that includes suicides, but victims of non-suicide gun violence are most likely to be victims of family members or acquaintances who revel in gun culture.  Owning a gun and carrying a gun may give you the ability to use it in a confrontation, but the likelihood that you’ll ever do that is vanishingly small.  And that self-defense ability has to be weighed against the risks* of always having guns around.  The risks, statistically, outweigh the rewards by quite a bit.

          But I’m preaching to the choir.  As you say, the objective is to feel safer.  Not to actually be safer.

          *The risks include using your gun in a way that it turns out is not legally justifiable, which is far more common than justified use of guns. There are just too many rageaholics out there who think it’s their 2nd Amendment right to solve interpersonal conflicts with guns. I say that as someone who has had guns pointed at my face twice in my line of work. Nothing is quite as thrilling as talking your way out of a confrontation with an angry gun-humper.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Are you trolling, Steve Towers?

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I prefer to think of it as advanced devil’s advocacy in the service of chipping away at pillars of orthodoxy. Democracy required rigorous debate, but we’ve become a nation of echo-chamber addicts who only want to hear: “Oooh, me too. That’s what I think, too.”

          The practice has cost me a few friends, left and right.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            I prefer to think of it as advanced devil’s advocacy in the service of chipping away at pillars of orthodoxy.”

            Man, I’ve read that three times, and now I have a headache.

            But seriously, I very much agree about the “echo-chamber addicts.” It seems most of our citizens choose their favorite pundits to believe, and pretty much disregard anyone else. People love to point out that the United States is a republic, not a democracy. True, maybe, but most of us hope that we’re guided by a spirit of democracy. That spirit is being eroded by a focus on who’s wrong instead of what’s right.

            As far as the CCW thing, my political views are pretty much encapsulated by a Facebook meme spotted a few years ago: “I support the right of of gay married couple to protect their marijuana crop with firearms.”

            I held a CCW permit in Shasta County in the mid and late-nineties. I really didn’t carry often, because carrying a firearm can be a pain in the ass.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            I don’t want to be misunderstood, so I’ll clarify.

            I don’t want to take away all the guns. Guns are mostly a risk to gun owners and their families—knock yourselves out.  I’m at greater risk from people mixing drinking (or texting) with driving.  My beef isn’t with gun ownership—it’s with the squishy logic (and in some cases, the mental stability) of gun-humpers.  A guy shows me his large collection of military-style guns, ammo, tactical gear, barter and food caches, and bug-out bags, and I think, “Dude, you can’t wait for WTSHTF.”

            I do think that people who are grossly irresponsible with guns often go unpunished, because to punish those people is somehow viewed (I surmise) as an affront to the 2nd Amendment.  I’ll be forever annoyed that a local woman who reached for her ringing cell phone and rolled her car, resulting in the death of her daughter, went to prison. But for several local dudes who left guns where toddlers could get them, resulting in the toddlers shooting themselves, the punishment was either a slap on the wrist, or nothing. The rationale is that the gun owner had been “punished enough” by the tragedy.

            One of those cases involved a local cop who didn’t even lose his job after his toddler son shot himself to death with the cop’s service revolver.   I’m okay with him not going go to prison because the loss of his child was punishment enough, so long as that rationale also applies to the mom whose daughter died in the roll-over.  But that level of irresponsibility with his gun should have ended with the loss of his job, and the loss of his right to own guns in the future.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Steve, I’m tempted to hurl a personal insult your way just to get attention from Barbara, but I’ll resist.

            I didn’t think you were advocating ending private gun ownership, by the way.

            The camo-attired folks who seem to crave an opportunity use a firearm in self-defense don’t seem to realize the harm they do to support for private gun ownership. I live a bit out of town in the woods, and as far as I know, all of my neighbors, liberal or conservative, own firearms. That said, if a tribe of gun-toting, MRE-eating, camo-wearing folks moved in down the road from me, I’d be wary. However, if the zombie apocalypse really came to pass, I’d be kissing their butts.

            So yeah, I’m pro Second Amendment, but the camo set gives me pause.

            Wait: camo underwear doesn’t count, does it? Surely not.

  13. Connie Koch says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us.  It revealed a lot of information I believe the general public isn’t or wasn’t aware of.  I have always been a supporter of law enforcement and I am thankful for all that they do to help keep our city safe.   Thank you RV and Chief Paoletti for this insightful information.  Merry Christmas and God Bless!

  14. Dan says:

    Thank you for the in-depth story.

    I had a long conversation with a retired DOJ agent about the prescription opiate problem in the North State. He felt it may be because of our low housing costs attracted people on disability with painful injuries seeking a lower cost of living while still collecting California benefits and enjoying low-cost outdoor activities like fishing.

    Personally, I can’t picture any of the people I personally know on prescription pain meds, being able to get out and rob anyone (using a cane…or crawling through a window to burglarize them). So I don’t really see the connection to heroin and crime. However, I am no expert .

    I am still puzzled about or astronomical per capita crime rate and auto theft rate these last 10 years compared to 400 other CALIFORNIA Cities who are operating under the exact same state laws.


  15. The Old Pretender says:

    Good interview, RV.  BMW is far more maneuverable than the Harley, and I don’t buy the clutch argument.  A lot of the Harley’s parts aren’t made here anyway, so a trade argument is a non-starter.  🙂

    BTW, an awful lot of white dudes in that RPD photo.  Jus’ sayin’…

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      It could be just the places I go, but I don’t see a lot of black or brown faces when I’m in Redding.  My guess is that the ratio of “white dudes” in the RPD is about the same as the Redding general population.

      • Richard Christoph says:



        Redding’s population is:

        8.1% Hispanic


        2.4% American Indian

        1.4% Black

        4.5% two or more races



        • Beverly Stafford says:

          Thanks.  That totals about 20% which is about the number of non-white faces in the photos.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Not to quibble, but here’s some quibbling: Hispanics (latinos) are not a race, but a cultural group. Hispanics can be Caucasian, black, Asian, or mixed race.  Half of the guys in those pictures could be Hispanic—Chief Paoletti himself might be Hispanic. The Columbian singer Shakira and Pope Francis would be Hispanic as far as the U.S. Census Bureau is concerned. Shakira’s dad and her name are Lebanese.  The Pope’s parents are Argentinians of Italian descent.

          • The Old Pretender says:

            Not to quibble, but race is a construct of Homo Sapiens with no biological significance, and skin color is certainly no indication of ancestry.  Still, too many white dudes.  🙂

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            One of my professors once told me that the boundaries between subspecies (races) were drawn where the fewest specimens had been collected—implying that those distinctions are non-biological dividers between arbitrary categories.  In reality, within species there are only continuua of traits (though some of those traits can show fairly steep clines between populations).

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Whites dudes, lol.

  16. Christina Prosperi says:

    Great article that helps explain the difficult limitations in our city and a plan for help in the future.  I would like to see a greater number of educated adults stay in Redding and be solutions to the problems that come with managing a growing city. Also I am loving the comments from readers who are moving the conversation forward and not simply complaining. Hope to see many of you at the city hall meeting tonight. Engaging in our city is the best way to create a successful future.

    • Rod says:

      Christina, please speak your mind this evening.  The Redding City Council needs a lot of help managing the proposition 64 ramifications.  In Redding, Anderson and Shasta County, the election results should weigh heavily on the illiterate.

      I’m personally gonna be at the SLC meeting, it’s where I’m comfortable with the elected leaders.

      I wonder why 6:00 this evening was the common thread?


  17. Richard Christoph says:

    Kudos to R.V., Doni, and to  Chief Paoletti for a great article, candid interview, and factual data. And thanks to for ensuring that its commenters consistently demonstrate a degree of civility and collegiality not often found on other news sites.

  18. Jamie says:

    Great read and interview. You have a typo in the Harley’s wet clutch part. Just a heads up.

  19. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    This interview reminded me of why I love the New Yorker magazine.  You and Chief Paoletti covered a lot of ground….in depth.

    Redding has some complex problems, but those problems aren’t insurmountable if people who serve and protect us are knowledgeable, intelligent and compassionate at the same time.

    Extraordinary interview R.V.



  20. Karen C says:

    The Old Pretender……if you ever have the opportunity to speak with  Chief Paoletti about “the white dudes” or other long time law enforcement men or women at RPD, or if you know the former Chief Bob Blankenship, they will enlighten you on the subject.   The answers may surprise you.

  21. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Great article, R.V. Thanks for being an antidote.

    As much as mimes are usually part of the problem, I can’t resist sharing this.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I followed your link because I really wanted enlightenment on how mimes are part of the problem.

      • Rod says:

        Yeah, I followed too.

        Hal is maybe referring to mimes who enjoy pantomime.  Communicating by gestures not speaking.

        His post radiated multiple messages, and few if any words.  This time he used mimes to a create a pleasant and entertaining time-out.  Maybe he didn’t mean to say “problem”.  It could mean distraction from the hum-drum.  Or maybe, so many can’t read very well, but his post rang clear as a bell.

        I think considering the years I’ve enjoyed Hal’s stuff,  he projected happy feelings without uttering a word.

        Welcome back Hal!


        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          Oh geez. Sadly, that’s not the first time I’ve used mimes when I meant memes. I blame it on too much tequila in my twenties.

          • Rod says:

            Howcome when we change a single letter of a word………..

            Hint…..fresh sliced lemon rather than lime, is a shootist’s friend, if stomach complaints occur.  I can’t remember if the head cares.


  22. Common Sense says:

    So will our little city go this way in the Article? Or will our elected Leaders Open their Minds to generating some more $$ to help change things?………I am not seeing anyone else in the Community with a Solution to Bring Millions of Dollars of Tax Revenues into our fine City and Possibly County so WE don’t go the way the city below in the Article has gone!

    The State took in $575 Million in MJ sales tax revenues….how much did the City of Redding and Shasta County Get?….Zero!…….you have to say YES and not NO to get money folks……’s not rocket science here…….

    Through June 30, 2016, $575,021,347 taxable sales of marijuana were reported to the BOE, and $50,507,006 was remitted in sales and use tax.


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