It is not going so well for the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.
Last week, I was researching and writing an article for A New Cafe and found some alarming content shared publicly on social media by a Shasta County Sheriff’s deputy. The content was so disturbing, coming from a public servant, that I felt compelled to report it. Within a few hours of when I called and filed a complaint with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy I reported found out who I was, investigated my background, and contacted me via social media. I have never previously had any communication whatsoever with this individual. His message contained a veiled threat. Considering the recent breaking news regarding the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, this officer’s conduct is yet another example of corruption. If he has nothing to hide, why is he so concerned with me?
Shasta County Sheriff’s Department’s troubled backstory
Captain Pat Kropholler has been on administrative leave for nearly a month. While there has been no investigation for his alleged “misbehavior,” he suspects the leave he was placed on, which came just before Sheriff Eric Magrini recently stepped down to take a more lucrative position as the assistant CEO of Shasta County, is the result of complaints he and others filed against Magrini.
Magrini’s salary will increase by over 30 percent as the assistant CEO position pays more than $178,000 annually.
When Sheriff Tom Bosenko retired in 2019, he recommended then-undersheriff Magrini as his replacement, which was approved by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors.
Earlier this year, deputies on his staff, along with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) and the Sheriff’s Administrative Association (SSA), issued votes of no confidence for Magrini.
Although not made public, the DSA published a 14-page document highlighting complaints against Magrini last April.
A letter sent to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) last February cited “serious breaches of ethical and legal conduct by Magrini, which include, but are not limited to, misuse of law enforcement systems, misuse of public/grant funding, [and] providing false public statements and purposely concealing documents to prevent public records requests.”
The letter also expressed Magrini acted in a “vindictive” manner when he sent only two deputies instead of 15 to BOS meetings after members denied him a pay raise.
This, as attendees to the weekly meetings acted out in increasingly extreme and potentially dangerous ways in recent months.
The more dangerous setting at BOS meetings kicked off when Carlos Zapata started showing up at meetings last August. Zapata is a north state right-wing celebrity and producer and co-owner of the Red White & Blueprint media company that’s producing a docuseries about the recall of three BOS members, District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti, District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty, and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert.
Kropholler claims that problems in the department have only gotten worse. Recent reports assert that these problems included a lack of morale in the department, and poor leadership and communication.
In a recent interview with the Redding Record Searchlight, Kropholler stated that “there’s definitely a pattern of retaliation” in the department, and he continued by expressing “there’s concerns that we have to be careful of, and I’m a good example of that I think, and then there’s been other retaliatory things that have happened in the office as well” with “other people.”
“Everyone’s on pins and needles,” continued Kropholler, and “they’re afraid they’re going to get the same treatment I’m getting.”
Others affiliated with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, including deputies who have retired, have corroborated the notion that deputies have feared complaining about conditions under Magrini.
So, to summarize, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office has been accused by seemingly legitimate sources as a place where, at least for some, ethical behavior and laws are out the window, a place where law enforcement systems and funding is misused, a place where false public statements are made and documents are purposely concealed from the public, and a place that exhibits a pattern of internal retaliation.
The dark side of Deputy Greg Walker’s social media posts
This brings me to my recent encounter with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.
On Tues., July 13 between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., I called the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department to report that Deputy Greg Walker publicly displayed racist and far-right extremist and terroristic content on his Facebook page.
After my initial call to file the complaint, Deputy Jose Gonzalez called me back to discuss the situation further.
I told Gonzalez about the meme on Walker’s page that included four white silhouettes, a Confederate flag, and the words “Straight, White, and Proud” as well as the fact that Walker listed “The Turner Diaries” and “The Anarchist Cookbook” as books that he liked. Both of these books have been linked to terrorist events such as the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 and the Columbine Shooting in 1999. I also highlighted the fact that Walker had joked with friends about going to Portland during the Black Lives Matters (BLM) protests to act on a “couple of ideas” as his friend put it.
There is no question that law enforcement officials across the country have been placed on leave, and even fired, for sharing this sort of content on social media platforms such as Facebook.
I told Gonzalez that I did not even feel comfortable filing the complaint because I felt like law enforcement officials in the county were tied in with right-wing extremist elements in the region.
Gonzalez told me that if Walker was indeed disciplined, it would be an internal matter and would not be available to myself or other members of the public.
Approximately four hours later, at 7:46 p.m., Greg Walker, the deputy about whom I’d filed an informal complaint, sent me a private message on Facebook with veiled threats. I had never spoken with Walker in any manner up to that point in time.
He began his message by expressing that he was disappointed by the fact that I reported the racist and extremist content on his Facebook page.
“For someone who claims to be intelligent, and educated,” continued Walker, “you have the audacity to act like a 3rd grader and call my employer to complain about pictures, memes and whatever I share with MY friends on MY private FB account [sic].”
On July 14 A News Cafe published my article, Questionable Conduct Abounds Among Shasta County Law Enforcement Officials. The content I reported regarding Walker’s Facebook page and other officers is public.
Walker then did what a lot of racists do when called out. He accused me of not respecting “political, social, or religious” beliefs that do not align with my own. One thing he got certain was my lack of respect for racist and far-right extremist beliefs and terroristic literature.
Walker then brought up my “background,” which was alarming, and again cited that “one would think” I would support “an individual’s right to think, feel, and worship however one chooses.”
For the record, I undoubtedly and wholeheartedly support these rights.
Walker continued: “I think a real man would at least try to have a conversation with someone before blindly attacking their liberties,” he wrote, following with, “if you are enough of a man to do so, then please contact me.”
Walker’s gendered comments echo those made by right-wing recall supporters like Carlos Zapata and others. Walker then told me that if I could not “muster enough courage” to speak with him, then I should “go back to Doni and the staff at ANC and find another person to harass.”
He was, of course, referring to the editor and owner of A News Cafe, Doni Chamberlain.
The last comment especially reads like a veiled threat, when Walker ended the message with, “ … the ball is in your court sir…play it wisely…you will only once chance [sic].”
Later that evening, I called the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office again to report the fact that the deputy I’d reported the previous day had contacted me personally in the manner Walker did.
After this call, I received a call back from Sergeant Garet Baldwin.
Baldwin stated that since Walker was off duty, he did not violate any laws. He also repeatedly stated that he did not think it was a good idea for Walker to send me a private message, and that it was “not a smart move,” but also specifically recommended, upon me asking, to not respond to him.
So, according to Baldwin, while Walker did not violate any laws, Baldwin recommended I not respond to Walker’s private message.
Baldwin also stated that Walker did not violate any laws because I am a “public figure” working as a journalist. During the discussion with Baldwin, I repeatedly returned to the fact that a law enforcement official got wind of a complaint against him. and then contacted the person who made that complaint. I pointed out how unprofessional this action was, but Baldwin simply continued to repeat the point that while he did not think Walker’s behavior was a good idea, it did not violate any laws.
I eventually asked him if this was normal conduct for sheriff’s deputies when they encountered reports they did not agree with, and for that, Baldwin had no answer.
Baldwin also shared that the content on Walker’s Facebook page had been reported and reviewed in the past, and that it was found to not violate any laws, but he could not tell me when this occurred.
With this, I can only surmise that it is acceptable for a sheriff’s deputy in Shasta County to publicly share a meme of a Confederate Flag with four white silhouettes and the words “Straight, White, and Proud.”
I can also surmise that it is acceptable for said officer to express that he likes terrorist literature like “The Turner Diaries” and “The Anarchist Cookbook”. I can also surmise that it is acceptable for said officer to joke with a friend who has a couple of ideas about getting a group together and going to Portland during the BLM protests last summer.
Baldwin mentioned one other thing in my conversation with him worth noting. He asked me how I thought a heterosexual deputy would feel if a gay deputy posted on their Facebook page that they were proud to be gay.
Baldwin’s comment regarding gay pride was alarming, to say the least. It highlights the possibility that the sheriff’s department is in dire need of diversity training and workshops that combat conscious and unconscious biases, and some lessons in race and gender studies.
In response to his comment regarding gay pride, I explained the difference between an expression of pride by a person who is part of a group marginalized and oppressed in the past and the present, and a phrase expressed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. Expressing pride as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not the equivalent of expressing pride in being white.
Baldwin also stated that he could not tell me how Walker obtained my name — considering Walker contacted me before my article was published — but Walker said my informal complaint was public record and that it does have a case number.
So somehow, between 3:30 p.m.-4 p.m. and 7:46 p.m., Walker presumably ended his shift (Baldwin stated that he had gone home for the day), obtained my name and sent me a private message via Facebook.
My conversation with Baldwin lasted between 20 and 30 minutes. At the end of the conversation, he told me that I was free to visit the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department office at 300 Park Marina Circle in Redding to file a formal complaint.
Why would I want to do this if Baldwin already told me Walker did not violate any laws? And why would I want to do this when this is likely the address where Walker is based?
On July 15, after being prompted to do so by an employee at the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, I called the Shasta County Grand Jury and left a message. I have yet to hear back.
Unfortunately, Walker’s conduct mirrors recent reports about the serious internal problems in the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department. A small example is the fact that Walker contacted me. His private message was a veiled threat with bullying overtones. His message was also unethical and based on a desire for retribution. Despite Sergeant Baldwin’s perspective, Walker acted in a highly unprofessional and unacceptable manner in his attempt to intimidate a journalist. I wonder what he would do if an average citizen happened to NOT be straight or white.