Story of Lack of Law Enforcement in Rural Counties Covered Sacramento Bee–Accounts of Trinity County Neighbors Whose Throats Were Slashed Featured
Rural residents know that a 911 call to law enforcement may result in a several hour wait for a response. Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee posted the culmination of several months of research into the problem. Leading the article is the story of how in March of 2011 a Trinity County couple, Jim and Norma Gund, had their throats slashed by a murderer when they responded to a request from a Trinity County Sheriff Cpl. Ron Whitman that they check on their neighbor who had called 911 for help. Whitman was almost 100 miles away in Weaverville.
According to the Bee’s story, “[T]he drive — through rugged forest and over steep passes — would take almost three hours.”
According to a California County map included in the article, Trinity County has 1.1 sworn deputies per 100 square miles. Humboldt has 5.1. Del Norte has 2.4 and Mendocino County has 3.5. The article looks at how this low staffing affects response time and policing.
Today, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Twitter account referenced the article but noted, “With the help of Measure Z (now Measure O) we’ve been able to boost staffing, provide better service, increase coverage in our most remote areas, staff resident deputy positions in Bridgeville, Orick and Orleans, and more.”
The Bee’s article also brushes on the limited number of mental health professionals in rural areas and looks more deeply into how rural economies are affected by protected state and federal land (acreage not in private hands is not subject to property tax which is a mainstay for budgets in rural counties.)
The story of Jim and Norma Gund is so compelling though that the Bee also published another article simultaneously about their ongoing court cases with the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office. The article is titled: This couple was attacked by knife-wielding killer. Did their sheriff put them in harm’s way? The article described what happened in detail. One short section states,
Their killer, Tomas Gouverneur, a musician from Corvallis, Ore., shocked Norma with a stun gun as she entered the house. He also attacked her with a hunting knife, slashing her throat, head and face. The blade opened her carotid artery and cut her trachea in half, Jim said.
Jim entered the house to check on his wife. Gouverneur attacked him as well. “I had never been in a fight in my life,” Jim said. “He had a Taser, a knife, a black belt in karate and he outweighed me.”
According to the Bee, “In June, a state appellate court sided with the sheriff’s office in dismissing a suit the Gunds filed in 2012 seeking $10 million in damages from the attack. The court said the Gunds were de facto employees of the county because they had agreed to do a deputy’s duties and therefore were entitled only to workers’ compensation.”
We corresponded with Jim Gund today and he tells us, “Right now, we are in Federal court, but the State Supreme court of Calif has now called for the case to be looked at by them. As far as we know, they have never done this. They only take about 5% of all cases presented to them, so this is a big deal.”
He said that he and his wife “have turned our horse ranch into a place
where kids and adults can come and ride and learn horsemanship.” He explained,
[I]f you do not have money, you are never turned away. The kids come after school, or in the morning in summertime, it is a safe haven. No put downs or bullying, only positive attitudes. …
We use the Vaquero method of horsemanship, which promotes quiet training methods, seeing it from the horses point of
We have autistic kids, ADHD kids, some who have come off their meds because of this, all different kinds of kids, which makes for a better world. The kids with no money benefit from the kids who do, the wealthy kids supply hand me downs of boots, clothing, and tack and equipment.
For instance, we have 3 strong riders, two are wealthy, one is not. The two wealthy kids were going to town one weekend to buy new tack bags, and fill them with new stuff for the horses. When they came back on Monday, there were three bags, all filled exactly the same. These are things we teach here on the Rockin G.
Read the two Sacramento Bee articles at the following links:
- Calling 911 in rural California? Danger might be close, but the law can be hours away
- This couple was attacked by knife-wielding killer. Did their sheriff put them in harm’s way?