Why is Mendocino Law Enforcement Ignoring their Local Press?

 

Today, the Noyo News finally addressed a question that has been bugging me.  Why has the Mendocino Sheriff’s office given great information to the Santa Rosa newspaper, the Press Democrat, and given little information to sources closer to home?  Frequently, a piece of information from the department is in the Democrat before it is in the official press release. That might be understandable if the local papers were getting the scoop but instead it is a paper a good two hours away from the site of the crime. Furthermore, the Noyo says somewhat skeptically,

In a highly unusual series of events, the MCSO has not conducted an open press conference on the situation since the witnessed murder of the town’s former mayor and current city councilman, Jere Melo.  The sheriff’s office has instead relied on highly contrived releases of information through a spokesman, Kurt Smallcomb, to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat Newspaper, and occasional updates by head sheriff Tom Allman by telephone interviews with selected local radio stations.

Despite the fears and concerns for the safety of the people in the nearby town of Fort Bragg, Sheriff Allman has claimed that release of information regarding the details of the search might aid the suspect, whom Allman claims might possess a radio.

The local newspapers have sometimes been reduced to quoting the Press Democrat–

According to the Press Democrat newspaper, the operation has involved the services of between 30 and 70 officers on the ground during a 24/7, ten day search of a
small area of woods outside the town of Fort Bragg.

Don’t get me wrong.  The coverage of the Press Democrat has been outstanding.  The photographs are beautiful.  The other papers could have done more.  But, as an outsider looking in, I can’t help feel it bodes badly that the local papers and the Mendocino Sheriff’s Dept. appear to be on such bad terms that basic information goes to the Press Democrat hours or even, it appears, days before it goes out to the Mendocino papers.

More info on the Jere Melo and Matthew Coleman homicides here.

Ukiah Daily Journal’s latest: “Melo and his companion had stumbled instead on a garden of more than 400 opium poppies when Bassler, guarding the garden from a lookout point above them and about 10 yards away, allegedly opened fire with a high-caliber long rifle.”

Press Democrat:  Great photos of the community and the agencies involved in the search for Aaron Bassler.

Toke of the Town’s Jack Rikes take on the media’s hype of dangerous marijuana growers.

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57 comments

  • My impression is that they are concerned of a friend and family problem with someone trying to assist the guy. They almost caught him at his mom’s house already and every bar fly in town seems to be a former friend of Bassler. The local papers mostly are weekly as well. If Bassler is carrying body armor, a police scanner, and a rifle, and who knows what else then I understand the Sheriff’s Office reasons for keeping things quiet locally. One thing to do is hold the press conference after they have taken him down or out. Until then the situation remains dangerous and deadly.

  • In your observations Kym, is this an ongoing problem or is this the first time you’ve seen it this bad?
    The Press is a daily with a bigger budget. The newspapers your talking about are weekly (as noted by Elk Ridge). And, if I’m not wrong, the Press Democrat has a bigger circulation in those areas than the weeklies so it’s not unusual for the cops to be in touch with them.
    I’m sure there’s more involved. I’m curious to see if communications with those smaller papers and the cops are really breaking down. If so, why?

  • In your observations Kym, is this an ongoing problem or is this the first time you’ve seen it this bad?
    The Press is a daily with a bigger budget. The newspapers your talking about are weekly (as noted by Elk Ridge). And, if I’m not wrong, the Press Democrat has a bigger circulation in those areas than the weeklies so it’s not unusual for the cops to be in touch with them.
    I’m sure there’s more involved. I’m curious to see if communications with those smaller papers and the cops are really breaking down. If so, why?

  • Doesn’t Mike Geniiella (sp?) now work for Mendo County? He was the PD reporter for our area for years.

    • Hello. Mike Geniella here. I work as part-time public information officer for Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, and his staff. The sheriff’s department prepares its own news releases.

  • Doesn’t Mike Geniiella (sp?) now work for Mendo County? He was the PD reporter for our area for years.

    • Hello. Mike Geniella here. I work as part-time public information officer for Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, and his staff. The sheriff’s department prepares its own news releases.

  • I worked for a large daily paper back East as a photographer covering the police beat and there has always been an uneasy alliance between cops and reporters. Lots of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” goes on. Anyone who complains or prints unfavorable news about cops gets the short shrift. It’s petty B.S. politics if you’re the one getting left in the dark. The bigger your circulation the more likely you are to get the scoop on your competition. As for the small weekly papers, they don’t have the resources and personnel to keep someone on the story 24/7, and expecting the cops to call you up and give you information is unrealistic.

  • I worked for a large daily paper back East as a photographer covering the police beat and there has always been an uneasy alliance between cops and reporters. Lots of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” goes on. Anyone who complains or prints unfavorable news about cops gets the short shrift. It’s petty B.S. politics if you’re the one getting left in the dark. The bigger your circulation the more likely you are to get the scoop on your competition. As for the small weekly papers, they don’t have the resources and personnel to keep someone on the story 24/7, and expecting the cops to call you up and give you information is unrealistic.

  • MCSO is a bunch of non-law-abiding criminals looking to forfeit citizens’ assets to full-fill their overtime pay for their unlawful activities… they are not held accountable and the court system in mendocino will not do anything about it due to fear of job loss when there are fewer items on their agenda(s)……

  • MCSO is a bunch of non-law-abiding criminals looking to forfeit citizens’ assets to full-fill their overtime pay for their unlawful activities… they are not held accountable and the court system in mendocino will not do anything about it due to fear of job loss when there are fewer items on their agenda(s)……

  • ” Steve Jones” wrongly asserted: “MCSO is a bunch of non-law-abiding criminals looking to forfeit citizens’ assets” …
    That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve heard today, the Sheriff has Nothing to do with Asset Forfeiture, it’s the DA who takes those actions, or not. “Steve Jones” should be held accountable for his baseless rantings.

  • ” Steve Jones” wrongly asserted: “MCSO is a bunch of non-law-abiding criminals looking to forfeit citizens’ assets” …
    That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve heard today, the Sheriff has Nothing to do with Asset Forfeiture, it’s the DA who takes those actions, or not. “Steve Jones” should be held accountable for his baseless rantings.

  • Derek,
    You are either just dumb or stupid but definitively uninformed. The DA can ONLY get money and assets that the Sheriff has FIRST confiscated. The Sheriff’s office keeps 40%, the DA’s office keeps 40% and 10% goes to the state. If that system is not the fox watching the hen house there is no such thing. Steve Jones is 100% right on, most likely lives in Mendocino county and you most likely live out of county.

  • Derek,
    You are either just dumb or stupid but definitively uninformed. The DA can ONLY get money and assets that the Sheriff has FIRST confiscated. The Sheriff’s office keeps 40%, the DA’s office keeps 40% and 10% goes to the state. If that system is not the fox watching the hen house there is no such thing. Steve Jones is 100% right on, most likely lives in Mendocino county and you most likely live out of county.

  • Could the fact that the Bassler family begged the county and city of Fort Bragg for help with their damaged child and no help was offered be part of local law enforcements reluctance to be completely honest about what is going down. Out of the area news sources print what they are offered. Local news sources dig a little further. Digging into this story, one finds it is not as simple as “bang you’re dead”. A tragedy all around if you ask me. Mr. Melo and Mr. Colemans death and the assistance that Mr. Bassler got from our community are all shamefull.

    • “their damaged child” is an ADULT … did you miss his AGE? He can refuse mental health intervention, and so can YOU, isn’t the law wonderful? Nobody can force YOU to have mental health intervention if YOU don’t want it, just like nobody could force Aaron, this has NOTHING to do with his father asking for help, his father is doing “damage control” by whoring himself out to the news media, why is this such a difficult concept for adults to grasp? It’s shameful …

  • Could the fact that the Bassler family begged the county and city of Fort Bragg for help with their damaged child and no help was offered be part of local law enforcements reluctance to be completely honest about what is going down. Out of the area news sources print what they are offered. Local news sources dig a little further. Digging into this story, one finds it is not as simple as “bang you’re dead”. A tragedy all around if you ask me. Mr. Melo and Mr. Colemans death and the assistance that Mr. Bassler got from our community are all shamefull.

    • “their damaged child” is an ADULT … did you miss his AGE? He can refuse mental health intervention, and so can YOU, isn’t the law wonderful? Nobody can force YOU to have mental health intervention if YOU don’t want it, just like nobody could force Aaron, this has NOTHING to do with his father asking for help, his father is doing “damage control” by whoring himself out to the news media, why is this such a difficult concept for adults to grasp? It’s shameful …

  • The blame for what created Bassler is complex and involves the judicial, mental, social services agencies and a psychosis fueled by drugs and a madman supplied with guns by people who had a legal responsibility to deny him access to guns. The pleas for help made by Bassler’s family were most likely made after he had already been on killing sprees and went to the wrong people who were, in the case of the public defender, trying to get another plea deal and then move on to the next case in the assembly line dysfunction of the legal system. These people who are criminally mentally ill and dangerous seem to be way too numerous in Mendocino County as the murders begin to add up. This tells me it is time for some new approaches to deal with dangerous mentally ill people or this pattern of crime against people will not change.

  • The blame for what created Bassler is complex and involves the judicial, mental, social services agencies and a psychosis fueled by drugs and a madman supplied with guns by people who had a legal responsibility to deny him access to guns. The pleas for help made by Bassler’s family were most likely made after he had already been on killing sprees and went to the wrong people who were, in the case of the public defender, trying to get another plea deal and then move on to the next case in the assembly line dysfunction of the legal system. These people who are criminally mentally ill and dangerous seem to be way too numerous in Mendocino County as the murders begin to add up. This tells me it is time for some new approaches to deal with dangerous mentally ill people or this pattern of crime against people will not change.

  • My question is: Why didn’t Aaron Basslers mother or father tell law enforcement that their son was near the Matt Coleman’s murder site and that mom dropped him off, complete with his rifle, until well after Jere Melo was murdered?

    Jere Melo might be ALIVE today if they reported it to law enforcement, so by failing to do so aren’t they accessories to Murder?

  • My question is: Why didn’t Aaron Basslers mother or father tell law enforcement that their son was near the Matt Coleman’s murder site and that mom dropped him off, complete with his rifle, until well after Jere Melo was murdered?

    Jere Melo might be ALIVE today if they reported it to law enforcement, so by failing to do so aren’t they accessories to Murder?

  • Ah… the newspaper situation. I can’t say much, given that I work for the UDJ, but the PD’s reporter in Mendocino County is fairly respected (having worked for the UDJ years ago before moving up) and “Johnny-on-the-spot” when it comes to getting information. We’re scooped on a regular basis because of that. It’s the nature of the business though.

  • Ah… the newspaper situation. I can’t say much, given that I work for the UDJ, but the PD’s reporter in Mendocino County is fairly respected (having worked for the UDJ years ago before moving up) and “Johnny-on-the-spot” when it comes to getting information. We’re scooped on a regular basis because of that. It’s the nature of the business though.

  • The information about Bassler’s actions have mainly come from the Press Democrat which seems to have had a good reporter on scene since day one. The information about Bassler being dropped off by his mother with a rifle came from his father, but it should also be noted that the PD has edited a lot of their early information received from the suspect’s fahter out of later reports. By reading the early reports, the real story seems to have been printed, but later versions were edited with the information deleted. This struck me as someone not wanting this info to get out. It might be because of the nature of the on-going investigation.

  • The information about Bassler’s actions have mainly come from the Press Democrat which seems to have had a good reporter on scene since day one. The information about Bassler being dropped off by his mother with a rifle came from his father, but it should also be noted that the PD has edited a lot of their early information received from the suspect’s fahter out of later reports. By reading the early reports, the real story seems to have been printed, but later versions were edited with the information deleted. This struck me as someone not wanting this info to get out. It might be because of the nature of the on-going investigation.

  • Bassler’s father is being interviewed on KZYX right now

  • Bassler’s father is being interviewed on KZYX right now

  • For more interesting reading, a new article in the Ukiah paper now reports that another person working for a forestry company disappeared without a trace while working near Albion last fall. Only his truck was found. Now Bassler is suspected of this crime, and as I have suspected his string of murders will continue to grow. Now where is the guy after a string of errors of trying to catch him and him getting away from several officers and a trained police dog. The 30k reward, I hope will produce something soon.

    • That is pure speculation on the Ukiah report. The speculation is over a sign removed from the property of the mother. One thing I do see as I read the press reports and peoples comments is There Is A Lot of Speculation! TIALOS. Wild speculations are inconclusive and a sign of sloppy press, and over zealous people whom seem incapable of responsibly citing sources!

  • For more interesting reading, a new article in the Ukiah paper now reports that another person working for a forestry company disappeared without a trace while working near Albion last fall. Only his truck was found. Now Bassler is suspected of this crime, and as I have suspected his string of murders will continue to grow. Now where is the guy after a string of errors of trying to catch him and him getting away from several officers and a trained police dog. The 30k reward, I hope will produce something soon.

    • That is pure speculation on the Ukiah report. The speculation is over a sign removed from the property of the mother. One thing I do see as I read the press reports and peoples comments is There Is A Lot of Speculation! TIALOS. Wild speculations are inconclusive and a sign of sloppy press, and over zealous people whom seem incapable of responsibly citing sources!

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