Policing Mount Shasta

Policing Mount Shasta

Ah, the life of a small-town cop. In 1998 when he first started working for the Mount Shasta Police Department, Parish Cross' first arrest was on a charge of domestic violence involving an old high school buddy.

For a small-town police officer it's like that much of the time, close and personal: Crime victims can be his neighbors. The guy he tickets on Wednesday may be coaching Little League with him that weekend.

Mount Shasta is a quiet town. There's been an uptick in burglaries with the recession, but by far the largest number of calls to the police dispatcher are about problems with stray and barking dogs. The last murder, a double homicide, was in 2002, three years before Cross was promoted to police chief.

Cross has never had to fire his gun, and quite possibly never will. He has a job that requires more talk than action.

"You're required to be a mediator, an arbitrator, a big brother and an enforcer, all in the same day," he says.

"Parish isn't a cop's cop," says Jimm Cross, who's no relation but has known Parish since they were in first grade. "He's more of a politician kind of cop, someone who's more likely to mediate than make an arrest."

"In this town, it's not about issuing tickets for speeding or jaywalking," says real estate broker Tory Shannon. "It's about making people feel safe."

Others in town say that Cross "listens to both sides before making a decision," is "down to earth" and impartial, "not part of a good- old-boy network like some small-town cops."

"Whenever I call him about my concerns it's like talking to a neighbor," said business owner Jon Thomas.