'We show that we are human:' Mount Shasta Police Department focuses on community oriented policing

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Mount Shasta Police Officer Walter Moore hugs K-9 Artie in a photo posted to the department's social media pages on Oct. 24, 2020, saying, "Congratulations to K9 Artie! You made it your first year and we only wanted to drop you off at the fire station once. We still need to work on that whole napping on the job thing too...All kidding aside Artie has been a great addition to the department and we are excited for the great things to come. Happy One Year Rookie! Keep up the pawsome work!"

Through the department's strong social media presence, the use of body cams, the introduction of K-9 officer Artie and other public outreach, Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross said his department strives to form partnerships with citizens to strengthen its focus on community oriented policing.

"The badge isn't for protection, it's a symbol for public trust," Cross told Mount Shasta City Councilors at their meeting Monday evening. 

Cross said the department puts out regular press releases on Facebook and Instagram, which have more than 8,000 followers. The department uses good humor and "displays self deprecation" in its posts, which assist in gaining public trust.

"We show that we are human," said Cross.

In addition MSPD "was one of the first to have body cams, building cams, and auto cams," said Cross. "We have a policy that is second to none, (and) we use CodeRed Alerts to get information out."

Councilor Barbara Wagner addressed a recent controversial arrest that was posted on Facebook involving MSPD officers tasing a man and using what some refer to as "excessive force."

"That's the beauty of us wearing cameras," said Cross. "If there is any evidence against the acting officer or suspect, it will be assessed to the full extent of the law."

Cross went on to say that policing as a whole is "in the midst of a reformation."

"I agree with it, and that we need to be honest, and not make mistakes, and show what we are trying to do to improve." He noted that he wants the MSPD to aid in "helping America in trusting cops more."

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K-9 Artie has been an excellent tool, not just for officer safety and to fight crime, but also for outreach. Artie and his handler, Officer Walter Moore, visit children at Sisson and Mount Shasta Elementary schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Shasta.

Mount Shasta Police Department uses depreciating humor on its social media pages, like this one on Oct. 4, 2020, when a new donut shop opened in town. "Police and donuts go together like coffee and dispatchers! We could not be more excited for Papa's Donuts opening," they wrote.

"Anyone who lives in Mount Shasta knows that this is a town that loves its animals," Cross said.

As far as other programs go, MSPD has a certified officer who can lead the local DARE program and the department participates in "Shop with a Cop" event, although both have been put on hiatus due to the pandemic. He also pointed to a ride-along program for those who are interested in pursuing law enforcement for a career and a reserve officers program, which is "key for saving money for the city, and helping with under-staffing."

Cross pointed to the formation of the Clean and Safe Mt. Shasta group that came from the community-based Team Shasta Program, as well as Coffee with a Cop – an active program that has been paused due to the pandemic.

Cross believes that the people of Mount Shasta trust the police force. "The community will tell us what it wants, and we will listen and assist their wishes. ... This is their police department," he said.

Councilor Jeffery Collings said he believes that the community is "very lucky" to have a department such as the MSPD. "We're in a small town. We sometimes only have one officer patroling," he said. "We are very lucky, and I want to say thank you."

Mayor John Stackfleth noted that as compared to larger cities, Mount Shasta is "a nice place to live with respect to crime."

Children at Shady Creek Preschool were excited to meet K-9 Artie and his handler Officer Walter Moore over the summer.