Bang! Bang! In Chapman, so what?

Maybe it is just me.

After all, one of my friends recently remarked, after reading one of my letters to the CN&R, that I was becoming quite a curmudgeon.

Perhaps gunshots just bring out the worst in me. During the noon hour on Wednesday, Jan. 29, several gunshots were heard by more than a dozen residents of our Chapman neighborhood. A possible suspect vehicle was seen leaving the area. A neighbor called the Butte County Sheriff’s Department.

What happened after two deputies arrived left me feeling more like a suspect than a victim.

The following day, I combed the street and found an empty shell casing in an intersection 75 feet from my house. I called the sheriff myself and requested that someone recover the casing and take a report.

Another confrontation. This time the two deputies were accompanied by their sergeant. The sergeant dismissed me and my concern with the statement, “This happens all the time.”

Perhaps it does. But it does not happen in front of my house “all the time.” And not likely in front of his house “all the time.”

And it certainly does not happen a block from a children’s center “all the time.” The Chapman Head Start Center on Boucher Street is less than the length of a football field from where the shell casing was found. When informed of the incident, the center’s director was very concerned.

If the report of gunshots had come in from residents in Butte Creek Estates, would the Sheriff’s Department have reacted differently?

As long as I have lived here, it has seemed that the Butte County Sheriff’s Department has considered Chapman a neighborhood to avoid unless they were going to make an arrest. During the past four years, green-and-white sheriff’s cars have been about as hard to find in Chapman as a phone booth.

I fully understand budget cuts and manpower shortages. And I understand former Sheriff Mackenzie’s antipathy toward Chapman, since they supported his rival wholeheartedly.

What I don’t understand is why the deputies do not recognize who their employer is: the people of Butte County. My property tax pays their salary. In nearly every workplace environment, when the employee intimidates the employer, there are consequences for the employee. Law enforcement, here and throughout the country, is the exception. New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco get the media headlines but the problem is ubiquitous.

Butte County cannot afford the level of law enforcement it needs. But it should be able to afford and hire the most professional officers it can find; officers who believe that respect and concern are better tools for negotiation than intimidation.

One other thing. Can someone please tell me why deputies wear dark glasses on cloudy days?