What’s going on?
Marvin Gaye’s song, “What’s Going On?” said, “Brother, brother, brother/There’s far too many of you dying/You know we’ve got to find a way/To bring some lovin’ here today.”
More and more, those of us who call Chico home are asking, “What’s going on?” as news stories of seemingly senseless violence fill the headlines.
Travis Williams was a hotel employee who tried to intervene in a parking lot fight in the early morning hours of Dec. 3. He received a blow from one of the combatants, fell to the parking lot striking his head and died the following Thursday as a result of his injuries.
In October, an 18-year-old man from Oroville was allegedly stabbed to death by a 16-year-old Chico youth in a service station parking lot at East Eighth and Bartlett streets. The accused is said to have gang connections. The same month, a Chico man, 24, shot and killed another man, 23, in front of the Normal Street bar. The suspect in that incident was charged with murder with use of a firearm and possession of methamphetamines.
There have been recent shootings involving Chico police officers and violent suspects. People are regularly beating up on other people, and more and more victims end up in the emergency room or the morgue.
What’s going on?
I asked Chico Police Chief Bruce Hagerty if he thought Chico’s recent pattern of violence is unusual or unexpected. Hagerty has a unique perspective of big city and small community policing. After many years as an officer and commander with the Los Angeles PD, he became chief of police of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert before relocating to Chico.
“It is not really that unusual for Chico or for a city the size of Ridgecrest to have spikes in violent crime,” Hagerty told me. “I don’t have an answer why these things happen from a sociology perspective. But it is not just happening in Chico. Cities throughout the [Sacramento] Valley are seeing more violent crime.
“What we do know is that the number of parolees and ex-felons living in our city is growing and it is not something that we can control.” He emphasized that his department and the Department of Corrections work hard to monitor the activities of active parolees. “But, there are just not enough parole officers out there to keep track of these guys as we would like to have.”
I came to Chico in 1980. A colleague at that time used to rave about how mellow of a place Chico was to live. I was skeptical then, and am convinced now, that Chico is anything but mellow. We are an expanded community of a hundred thousand citizens, some of whom have no qualm about ending your life in a violent confrontation.