Humboldt County Cuts Patrols During Willow Creek Crime Wave

WCCSD Board Chairman Bruce Nelson, left, said he was disappointed that the Sheriff’s Department wasn’t responding to emails from Willow Creek, and with the Department’s staffing reductions in Eastern Humboldt County. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Willow Creek residents at the Willow Creek Community Service District (WCCSD) meeting on Thursday, February 27, expressed their frustration with County law enforcement cutbacks.

Residents said the small Eastern Humboldt County town is in the midst of a crime wave, citing at least two armed home invasions, several armed robberies, and at least one major burglary.

The County is cutting back on law enforcement despite the increased levels of crime in the area. A single Sheriff’s Deputy will be on duty from 6 am to 6 pm.

Local fishing guide Ed Duggan, said, “We think it’s deplorable that if we have an incident after 6 pm, we’re going to have to wait for a Deputy to come out here from the Coast.”

WCCSD Vice Chairman Judy Gower said, “Once the Sheriff is off, there’s no one on duty until the next morning. It’s not going to take them long to figure out that at about 10 o’clock it takes two hours for any response.”

Board Chairman Bruce Nelson said they emailed Sheriff Downey three times about the issue and requested that someone from his department attend the WCCSD meeting.

“We asked him to explain why coverage is being cut back with all of the recent armed robberies and home invasions,” Nelson said. “I don’t understand why he didn’t at least email us back and attempt to communicate with us.”

Ray’s Food Place in Willow Creek was robbed twice at gunpoint. The Patriot Gas Station was also robbed by an armed gunman, and burglars used a truck to rip the door off of the Tonkin Wildlife Museum getting away with several exhibits.

Privately, several residents told the TRT they were worried that the next robbery attempt might end in a gun battle downtown if people take matters into their own hands.

“I’m really worried about our local law enforcement having no backup,” Nelson said.

Nathan Falk said, “Two years ago Sheriff Downey stood in front of us and said we’d have Sheriff’s Deputies here and they wouldn’t leave until midnight. He hasn’t kept his word.”

Nelson said, “If they were to look us in the eye and say ‘we’re doing our best,’ that would go over a lot better than just not contacting us.”

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