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Letter to the Editor – Running On Empty: ‘Shasta County, Pull Your Head Out of the Sand’

Excuse the pause, but I hear my local TV newscaster/crime crier telling of another high-speed chase occurred one recent  Friday night.

They didn’t have a fresh mug shot to show since the perpetrator ate his stash of methamphetamine and required hospitalization afterwards, no time for a photo yet. Fortunately for us all, the chase ended because his car broke down, vigilance in the area of auto maintenance lacking, go figure.

Wonder what that cost us—from I-5, to the 44 interchange then out 273 west to Whiskeytown, several police units involved, the bill at the hospital, the incarceration – though brief – will cost us something. What about the ambulance-ramming incident at Mercy (see shastamugshot.com to view multiple generations of his family with long raps sheets), the recent theft of the fireman’s pick-up, vehicle thefts at the car dealership near the end of last year resulting in multiple busts at the Motel-6 with some of the criminals having 7 and 8 outstanding arrest warrants citing “failure to appear” for previous crimes and “parole violations”?

What about the childrens’ group picnicking near the In ‘n’ Out Burger in witness of the recent Sunday stabbing of a parolee by another? These incidents are all soaking up our resources, so much so, that a visit from the police for a residential break-in is a thing of the past—just fill out a form online and e-mail it in that is the response.

The city is too short-handed to send an officer out every time, and I don’t doubt it. So just some facts: the following numbers are taken directly from 247wallst.com and were generated by the FBI.

–Violent crime is up in the Redding area by 321.7% since 2005

–867 violent crimes were committed in Redding in 2010 per 100K citizens compared to 382 per 100k in California proper and 313 per 100k in the US.

–Vehicle theft 265 per 100k in Redding , 148 per 100k in the U.S.

–Overall, crime is 27% higher in Redding than in California as a whole, and 31% higher than the U.S. as a whole.

I counted 6 high speed chases so far in the month of February, I’m still counting.

To wit, the following is stated: Assault is defined as the immediate apprehension of personal violence or the threat thereof. We the citizens of Redding are being Assaulted right this minute and the same goes on most every day of our lives so, why don’t you do something Mr. DA, Mr. Legislator, Mr. Governor, Mr. President!

Here are a few simple ideas, common sense applies and it is scary, often considered poisonous/toxic by the job-proliferating bureaucrats, but here it goes. If you do the crime, then you do the time. Things are tough, we don’t have the money to coddle the criminals like we used to, that’s just the facts and you all know this.

Fill up the jail cells, the more the merrier! With a current 13.9+ percent unemployment rate in Redding compared to a national average of 8.5 percent and California’s 11.1 percent plus the startling fact that 1 out of every 5 local homes have been foreclosed over the past 3 years, our local economy has run out of resources.

Every one of us on the outside has taken a hit in this economy, why would that not naturally extend to the prisoner population? It should. Apply for a hardship exemption from the state, I’m sure that would be a reasonable request. Maybe if things weren’t quite so comfy, they would think twice about getting locked up.

How about this, I’m a tax payer, I’ll even help fund it. What’s that? I already fund everything anyway, well I’ll be darned. Another item—I’m going out on a limb here by speculating that 90% of the high speed chases involving those fine upstanding representatives of our local values and communities, don’t have a high school diploma. Is that right? I thought I paid for them to get an education at least through the high school level, so they chose to not take advantage of that and now I’m being punished for offering them an education?

Oh and let’s not forget that most of my taxes are used to “catch and release” prisoners (Are we fishing or providing public safety?) as they taunt us with their sleazy grins (check out some of their sneering mug shots). What the hell is that about? Given these facts, they might struggle to understand well-established concepts like, “Stop!” and the forever practiced ideal of, “Don’t Steal” or the Golden Rule’s “Do unto others…”.

What about using tranquilizer darts on the runaways? Seems humane and would certainly lessen the officer injuries related to these incidents and ours as law abiding tax paying citizens.

Whatever happened to respect for the law? Did everyone forget? How about respect for your neighbors of Redding — you know, the ones you may need to rely on in the event of a future emergency?

Another question, why is it that I never see prisoner work details anymore? These fine folks should be out cleaning and mowing the roadsides, chopping weeds, digging for the city utility company, shoveling gravel, you name it, they could be out doing it. We shouldn’t have businesses sponsoring sections of the local road for trash pick-up; just have the prisoners do it. Let’s get a truck farm started so the jail kitchen doesn’t have to buy any fresh produce, at least in the warmer months. Any excess could be donated to the local Salvation Army, to the state prison system. Make a business of it, make it pay.

This is important work and it all needs to be done, all the time. These prisoners should be charged daily room and board as it will teach the value of work, respect and taking responsibility for their actions. Perhaps then they would understand like the rest of us that you are NOT entitled to steal from others and that you have to work to have a roof over your head and a warm meal.

That’s just the way it is.

Hello judges and Mr. DA –the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Of which the latter promises that “all men are created equal” — however, the prisoners are afforded all these rights while the entire time the rights of the victims and all of us are being walked all over. If they are injured while fleeing from arresting officers or fighting with fellow jail birds, the law breakers are given free medical treatment while many of the residents of Redding cannot afford to go to the doctor.

The reasonable man would know to stop, and know to NOT break into homes and cars and to not take items that don’t belong to him. The reasonable man would expect to be and feel safe in his home and while driving on the streets. The reasonable man would expect the local authorities to handle these matters in an effective manner, treating all equally, but you are not. The failure extends all the way up the chain of command, yet the local peace officers’ hands are tied by funding and manpower cutbacks, so don’t try to blame them.

This is a wake-up call, for everyone. In the event that you are not going to treat us all equally, let’s talk–there are a few select families and close knit communities in the North State that generate most of the crime, some downtown, others east of town and some to the south, you realize that. It is in your own reports. Do something about it. As of last week how many individuals have been arrested then re-arrested in Shasta County since January 1 of this year: 157.

In this brave new world that we will forge together, I don’t think so. If you can find a way to tune the incarceration experience so as to create an environment and conditions that are a little less comfortable, the parade of familiar faces will slow to a trickle.

 What we are doing now isn’t working. We need to regain the respect of the criminal population here in Shasta County. Until we do, you will continue to see the exodus of professional folks as they flee out of fear after being victimized. Several physicians have and are leaving as I write. Maybe that is fine with the citizens of our fair city, but once one of you are waiting past “your golden hour” for the overworked ER doctor, perhaps this gravity of the situation will sink in.

Shasta County, pull your head out of the sand. The war is upon us. Whose side are you on?

P.S. The recent hellish crime by an early release prisoner that resulted in two dead and another burned is another example of why something different must be done to protect us here in Redding and Shasta.

By the way did I mention that this Mountain Home meth house had be visited by police approximately 150 times in recent times and housed two criminals with long rap sheets with multiple failures to appear? Sounds like a mega drain on our local resources, huh?

I rest my case.

Born in Indianapolis Indiana, John F. Swaim, DPM,  rose up from/fled/ the corn fields of Parke County in 1980. At age 30 Swaim returned to academia, graduated UT Austin in 1995 with a BA in biology. He moved to the Bay Area and in 1999 graduated California College of Podiatric Medicine. He has lived in Redding since 2001, and has worked in private practice in Redding and Red Bluff.  He is also the author of the fiction novella, “Need To Get Out More”.

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