Last week I sat down with Redding Police Chief Peter Hansen to discuss the June flare-up in gang-related crimes. In last Tuesday’s Part 1, Hansen discussed gangs and the history of gangs in Redding.
The interview stretched into many other topics, however, and here’s a look at some of the other issues we discussed.
Fortunately, says Hansen, Redding hasn’t seen a big spike in crimes related to its marijuana collectives like has happened in other cites such as Denver and Los Angeles. There have been a couple of burglaries, and one collective had issues with adjacent businesses because it wasn’t acting as a “good neighbor.” Some zoning restrictions should have been put in place prior to the rise in collectives, but beyond that, it hasn’t been too bad working with the 19 dispensaries currently operating in Redding, Hansen said.
“We’ve had very few problems with them,” Hansen said. “It’s been about as good as we could have expected.”
That doesn’t mean Hansen isn’t concerned about the collectives and the potential for future crimes.
“What happens when Johnny Bad Guy comes in and says, ‘Here, buy from me,'” Hansen said. “The mom and pop collective refuses, trying to comply with the law, but the bad guys says, ‘OK, we’re going to burn your place down.’ That’s how organized crime works.”
In “Chat With the Chief Part 1,” Hansen discussed how important the Shasta County Marijuana Eradication Team’s efforts were in keeping public and private lands free from Mexican drug cartel growers. The Washington Post and other news agencies have reported that the Mexican drug cartels are being damaged by mom and pop growers coming into the marketplace, but Hansen doesn’t believe that full legalization is the answer.
There’s still the bulk of the country that’s a market for them, for one thing. The idea that the state economy will be saved by taxing marijuana sales is also unlikely, he added.
“There’s no system in place for registration and taxation,” he said.
He’s also concerned with the long-term effects of marijuana smoking that he doesn’t believe have been closely studied. Will the state be facing a massive class-action suit a few years down the line just like what has happened with the tobacco industry?
• Red Light Cameras
Critics have argued that red-light cameras are a bad case of Big Brother creeping into society and a method of raising big dollars for law enforcement agencies (and the company the builds and maintains them). Critics also complain that the huge fines (in excess of $400) are very damaging to citizens during a recession.
While it’s true that the companies that manufacture and maintain the red-light cameras (in Redding it’s Redflex, an Arizona company with an Australian ownership group) have made significant profits, it’s not true that Redding is getting rich on them, Hansen said.
“We don’t do it to make money and we’ve never made money on this,” Hansen said. “We use sworn-in police officers. We have three officers that do this and it’s not (monitored) by someone in Tennessee or Arizona.”
Of 100 possible cases when the red-light cameras flash, the Redflex company throws out about 25 percent because of issues like not having a clear ID on the vehicle’s license plate. Of the 75 cases that Hansen’s officers review, they may issue citations to about 40 to 50 percent of the drivers.
Rolling right turns have been a big issue that has upset the public. Hansen said the cameras trigger at a certain speed and his reviewing officers can also be selective about turns.
“Our officers can use their discretion with it,” he said.
In terms of the amount of fines, Hansen said this: “People complain about the fines, but the bulk of that is court costs and we all voted for that. RPD does not set the fine or the court costs.
“(The cameras have) reduced traffic accidents by 25 percent in this town. That’s saved a lot of injures and accidents from occurring. I believe it’s as effective as placing an officer on the street corner.”
Chief Hansen checks a local news website that’s on his favorites list. Hey!
• Recession related crimes
In 2009, surprisingly, crimes were actually down. However, that may be changing.
“It’s very unusual,” he said. “When the economy goes bad, typically crime goes up. In the second year of it, we’re starting to see crimes increasing and maybe that’s because people are getting desperate. We’ve seen an increase in violent crimes and maybe that’s an indicator that people are getting desperate and doing the wrong thing.”
Hansen is concerned that more and more people are not reporting crimes because they believe the police are too busy. RPD is currently working on an online reporting system for crimes, which Hansen hopes people will utilize.
• Motorcycle shop owner’s possible ties to a gang
In late June, the Record Searchlight reported that the California Highway Patrol investigated a Redding motorcycle shop owner, alleging his business was front for an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Gary Kenerson, owner of Gary’s Motorcycle Services Center on California Street, has adamantly denied that he’s dealing in stolen parts and that he’s a Vagos motorcycle club member.
Still, the colors Kenerson flies in front of his shop are definitely associated with the Vagos club, Hansen said.
“Is he a (Vagos) gang member, probably not,” Hansen said. “Does he associate with them, absolutely.”
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.