We had a bit of a mystery envelop us here at the News & Review last week when a local personality, a young woman, came into the office and asked to speak with the editor. This high-profile person expressed concern that a recent early morning indiscretion on her part might appear on the pages of our newspaper. She explained that a News & Review reporter on a ride-along with the Chico Police Department had witnessed her unfortunate encounter with the police. “I heard you write mean things about [the folks at her place of employment],” she said. We told her that we most assuredly do no such thing and then asked for a description of the reporter who she said had identified himself as a CN&R employee. “He was heavy-set with facial hair,” she told us. That doesn’t describe anyone on our small staff, and we wondered whether maybe some freelancer was using our name to gain credibility for a ride-along or, worse, someone was straight out lying about his connection with our paper.
We called the Chico police, and they said they didn’t allow ride-alongs on Friday nights. The mystery deepened. We called the young woman and asked if it was indeed the Chico police she had encountered that evening. She said it was. What was the officer’s name? “Kapu,” she answered in an uncertain voice. Kapu? There’s nobody at the CPD with that name. The mystery was solved with a story printed in last Sunday’s Enterprise-Record, which chronicled an E-R reporter’s nighttime ride-along with a Chico State University police officer. And right there in the story was a photo showing the back of our local personality. The story included an unfortunate—and disturbingly racist—quotation attributed to her. We were pretty sad when we read that. As Randy Newman once sang, “And I think that it’s going to rain today.”
I was riding my bike home from work this week, turning north from First Street onto The Esplanade, when I noticed two Chico PD cruisers parked in the southbound lanes. The two officers were talking to a man on the sidewalk, straddling a bike. I lost sight of the scene as I headed past Northern Star Mills. About two blocks later I heard someone riding up on a bike next to me. “What are those going for now?” I heard the rider ask. I looked to my left; it was the same guy who’d just been with the cops. He wanted to know how much my bike cost. “I don’t know,” I said. “I traded for it.” The guy had long dark hair under a gray baseball cap and was wearing a black sweatshirt with the Iron Cross on the back. He liked my answer, assuming the acquisition of my bike involved some sort of larceny. “Oh yeah,” he said, grabbing the cable bike lock that wrapped around the handlebars of the bike he was riding. “Bolt cutters, baby,” he said. I told him I saw him talking with the police. “Yeah, they didn’t want me, ’cause here I am,” he answered. Then, he said with a whoop and a sly smile, “There’s two kinds of families in Butte County, in-laws and outlaws.” And he stood up on his pedals and rode ahead.