Barnum is quoted as saying, “A man goes by a set of principles. You can only do what you think is fair and honest ... The only thing I was concerned about was that everybody was going to be treated equal, regardless of who they were ... We made it clear we were going to do everything we could do to stop it from getting out of hand.”

Former Mount Shasta Police Department Chief Harold Barnum, known for his unflappable attitude and fair demeanor, died last week a few days before turning 93.

Barnum served as MSPD’s chief from May 5, 1957 until his retirement on May 31, 1982. Before that, he spent three and a half years as the chief at Weed Police Department.

Barnum was born and raised in Weed in before enlisting in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He served in WWII in the South Pacific and was recently recognized with a Quilt of Honor by the Shasta Lily Quilt Guild.

After the war, Barnum got a job as an officer with the WPD before Weed was an incorporated city. For about 18 months, he worked eight daytime hours in the Long-Bell plywood plant, then eight more hours in a police patrol car after dark.

In a Mount Shasta Herald article written about Barnum in 1973, he said in those days, pay for a police officer was “very low.”

In 1948, he was offered Weed’s chief position, and he quit his job at Long-Bell to become a full time policeman.

Although Barnum had no college, he took advantage of every FBI and other police training course that the limited Mount Shasta budget would allow, according to the 1973 article, written by reporter Garth Sanders.

“Anybody that goes into law enforcement is going to be constantly studying,” he told Sanders at the time – a prediction that has definitely proved to be true, with all the continuing education and training modern officers take part in.

One of the most challenging parts of his job came in 1969, according to the vintage newspaper article, when “anti-hippie fever” hit the town. Some people “wanted public sanctions against hippies,” the article stated, while other Mount Shasta residents didn’t want them stereotyped.

“Barnum and his officers were caught in the middle,” according to the article. “It seems that most of the people who put up the taxes to pay the officers’ salaries were anti-hippie ... Somehow Barnum managed to walk the tightrope until the angry shouting died away.”

Barnum is quoted as saying, “A man goes by a set of principles. You can only do what you think is fair and honest ... The only thing I was concerned about was that everybody was going to be treated equal, regardless of who they were ... We made it clear we were going to do everything we could do to stop it from getting out of hand.”

Barnum said at the time that he thought it was important for police officers to “keep a close relationship with young people,” so he ensured that his six officers went to youth functions like high school basketball games “as part of the community spirit.”

In addition to the six officers and their 24-hour per day coverage of the town, Mount Shasta also had an eight-man auxiliary police force in the 1970s.

The 1973 article said things were generally quiet in Mount Shasta in those days, although it recounted several “hair-raising experiences” from Barnum’s tenure:

“– A Weed woman walked into the Bank of Mount Shasta next door to the city hall and its police station and got $2,200 on the threat of having a hidden gun. She was gone with the money before the police could be summoned, but the FBI caught her several months later.

– An arsonist was setting fires almost daily in Mount Shasta and the surrounding area. Finally Barnum, Fire Chief Frank Melo and Deputy Sheriff Laurence Taylor caught the firebug when he tried to burn down a garage at the rear of his home.

While Barnum and Melo were in another room inspecting evidence, the arsonist leaped off the bed where he’d been lying in an apparent trance and began strangling Deputy Taylor with his hands. The deputy’s struggles attracted Barnum and Melo and they pulled the incensed man off the purpling deputy.

The arsonist subsequently was sent to a mental institution.

– A man who had taken a dislike to Gordon Lensing, one of Barnum’s officers, tossed a gallon jug of gasoline with a paper fuse into the Lensing home. The fuse sputtered out and the life of the Lensing’s baby, asleep in the room, was spared. The fire bomber is doing 30 years in federal prison.

– A couple of brothers drinking and celebrating in a Mount Shasta tavern got into a beef with another resident. Later they decided to wreak revenge on their enemy and went to the motel where he lived.

The object of their wrath had judiciously parked his car in front of another man’s cabin and the angry brothers burst in upon the occupant of the wrong cabin, mistook him for their recent antagonist, beat him up and departed.

They were caught and sent to jail.”

The article also discusses the time in the mid-1960s when two of Barnum’s officers reported sighting an unidentified flying object – a “huge disc” hovering several hundred feet above Captain Jack Brown’s patrol car as he cruised in north Mount Shasta at 2 a.m.

Brown radioed the police dispatcher at city hall to take a look northward. The dispatcher went into the street, said that he saw the UFO too, and confirmed it over the radio.

“I’m not too much of a believer in flying saucers,” said Barnum at the time. “But I believe he (Brown) saw something. Or he wouldn’t have said it.”

Barnum took over as Mount Shasta’s police chief in 1957 after the heart attack death of former chief Felix Gaspari. In his exit interview upon his retirement in 1982, when asked for comments regarding his employment, Barnum wrote, “Old chiefs never die, they just fade away.”

Barnum was succeeded by Lou Baldi, then Robert Montz, Bill Pieruccini and the current chief Parish Cross, who has been in his position for 16 years. That’s only five chiefs in 62 years – an impressive statistic, considering that the average tenure for California police chiefs is just three years, said MSPD Lieutenant Joe Restine.

After his retirement from the MSPD, Barnum continued his service as a seasonal deputy for Siskiyou County as a boat patrol deputy as well as a resident deputy at Medicine Lake.

For the past five years, Barnum lived at the Veterans Home in Redding, said his daughter, Jeannie Hilton. She called attention to the quote under the large photo of Barnum, sitting at his chief’s desk that accompanied the 1973 Herald article: “Only do what you think is fair.”

A perfect summation of Barnum’s life, Hilton said.