From Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson:

Dear Community:

The attached Report to the Community on 21st Century Policing is the first of its kind and scope by Humboldt County law enforcement to my knowledge. The Eureka Police Department and City of Eureka are very proud of the progress EPD has made as we’ve implemented new programs, cultural change, and progressive policing training and practices over the past 3 1⁄2 plus years. However, as recent events have illustrated, we recognize that we are not done and more work remains.

We are fully committed to this positive transformation and more resolved than ever to continually earn, refresh, and safeguard your support and trust in us. We continue to work toward innovative strategies and programs in contemporary, community-focused ways that align with what our community needs and expects from their police department. Policing at its core is about relationships and these positive connections are foundational to trust. Since the Task Force on 21 st Century Policing released its final report to President Barack Obama on May 18, 2015, I have felt passionate about this topic. The task force was “created to strengthen community policing and trust among officers and the communities they serve—especially in light of recent events around the country that have underscored the need….” Last summer, a Eureka City Councilmember asked me about EPD as a 21 st Century Policing agency. This spurred my renewed interest, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, limitations on time and resources are a constant companion, and this past year has been an exceedingly busy and difficult one.

I began actively working on this report on March 2, 2021 inspired by a graduate school course I was taking on “Best Practices in Community Engagement.” I decided to use this opportunity to expand a class assignment into an even more comprehensive report on the subject I could share with our community. I have now completed the report, which, while not intended to be all-encompassing, provides an informative overview of many of our existing and aspirational programs and goals that align with the six core pillars of 21 st Century Policing.

I have hesitated to release the report at this time in light of the deeply concerning and disappointing officer-texting incident that was recently brought to our attention through a Sac Bee news story. However, upon further reflection, I believe the report illustrates just how far the Eureka Police Department has come over the past several years while demonstrating where we are decidedly heading as an organization well on its way toward positive, transformative change.

Our Report to the Community is not intended as a statement that we feel we have arrived yet. We know we have much more work to do, and we are invested in creating a culture of accountability and continual improvement. We will labor tirelessly to that end. Our community and the men and women who serve deserve no less. I want you to know this report comes from my heart to yours. I am very proud of the efforts, progress, and sacrifices made every day by the men and women of the Eureka Police Department in your service. You can be too.


Stephen Watson
Chief of Police