Deputy Massey Looks Back

by Mark Scaramella, March 8, 2017

AVA: How much prostitution have you encountered in your duties?

Massey: I've only run across a few cases. I don't think it's that widespread. But there is some occurring in the hotels and motels around Ukiah. The Ukiah Police Department has certainly gone on a few prostitution calls in motels in Ukiah. It seems to be increasing but it's not that much so far.

AVA: Is there a drug connection?

Massey: Certainly sometimes young ladies will offer their bodies for drugs. It's not difficult for a young woman to get drugs for her body. They can maneuver through the town, stay in hotels, stay in people's homes, trailers… If they have a drug habit, they can get drugs for sex. Not uncommon.

AVA: Who is the scariest or most dangerous guy you've ever dealt with as a cop?

Massey: There's not one particular scary person that stands out. But there are certainly scary moments with certain people and their behavior. If you know the person suffers from mental instability then you have to be careful with them. People who are under the influence of methamphetamine or PCP — they can be angry or volatile. You don't know what they are going to do. Sometimes just touching them can set them off. Or they will overreact to an officer's direction. In those cases, you have to call somebody. If you have to get physical with somebody you need back up. Some of them are pretty strong -- even a little guy can be very strong if you try to handle them alone without assistance. Experience tells you when you need to call for assistance.

AVA: If you call, do you generally GET assistance?

Massey: If you say the magic words, respond code 3, people will respond to your location. Code 3 means emergency in progress. You have to use that judiciously because when an officer responds Code 3 he may be speeding, running lights, there is a potential for traffic accidents and so forth.

AVA: Have you patroled Covelo very much?

Massey: Not that much. I’ve gone on a number of calls, yes. But not in any residential patrol capacity. Covelo is certainly unique. It can get explosive on calls there on a moment’s notice. It takes a special person to work at any length of time in Covelo. It's not easy. Nobody should work there alone. There should always be two or more on duty. Drugs and alcohol are big problems there. I've had days there where I stopped 10 people and eight of them were under the influence of methamphetamine. In one shift. On top of that, the locals know the area very well and if you don't know the area, it can get dangerous pretty fast, not knowing where you’re going. Officers need to be have experience dealing with people. Being a resident deputy there is a completely different mindset than covering a shift or going on call. If you are a resident deputy you have to be careful not to create an impression that you are hostile to the locals. You have to know when to talk and when not to talk. And learn how to wheel and deal with the locals. The closest backup is an hour or more a way. So sometimes when you have to decide to take someone to jail or not the remotest is a factor. If you're alone, probably will use more citations and reports rather than trying to tussle with someone alone. That's not a good idea in general, but in Covelo it's more dangerous.

AVA: I’ve noticed that sometimes people in Covelo are not very clear or articulate when they are trying to describe a situation, or they can be drunk or on drugs. Or were at the time they witnessed something…

Massey: It can be a complicated trying to solve any kind of crime out there. Difficult to pin things down. Sometimes it's difficult to even figure out who lives in a house. Or who owns the house. Sometimes a house will belong to a whole family or family group or the whole reservation! It gets very confusing. Who owns vehicles? Whose marijuana plants are those? A guy once told me that he lived in the house he was in because his great grandfather used to live in it, but now the whole tribe owns the land and the house. You can get drawn into these old quarrels and disputes over whose land and property is whose. It's hard to figure out. And then sometimes people will complain about the Sheriff's Office because action has not been taken. Sometimes it’s a civil matter and it's hard to figure out who's responsible. Trespassing alone can be difficult to figure out. Sometimes we suggest the complaining party obtain a court order that can be enforced, clearly stating certain things and ownership and so forth. That gives us something to work with. Of course, we are frequently blamed for not solving problems, we are called worthless and not helpful. All you can do is shake your head. It’s just very complicated. Things can seem tranquil and peaceful on the surface, and then the next thing you know things explode. Gunfire. Shouting. Running. If you don't know who's who you can make a serious mistake without even realizing it. So again, experience and backup are very important.

AVA: Has the incentive pay program worked out very well?

Massey: It helped for a while but but now there is no one.

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