In the wake of the petroglyph thefts near Bishop, law enforcement officers in all branches have had an eye out for clues. In the view of one of the commenters on our website, too close an eye. The California Highway Patrol Lieutenant in Bridgeport investigated a complaint.
According to a local resident, he took friends to view a petroglyph site near Round Valley. He said a CHP officer drove up, asked for their drivers licenses and said he was checking to see if they were removing anything or disturbing the site. The resident posted a comment on our website that reported that the CHP officer said his wife looks through a high-powered scope from Paradise and reports to him anyone walking around the petroglyphs.
The man said the CHP officer took photos of the licenses and car license plates. This resident said the officer made him and his friends feel “very uncomfortable.”
The area described by the complaint is under the jurisdiction of the Bridgeport CHP office. Lieutenant Ron Cohen talked to us and said he would look into it. Lt. Cohen did say that one of the points in the CHP Mission Statement is to assist other agencies. He said his officers were briefed on the activities of potential rock art theft and considered that they would be on the look out to assist BLM and the Forest Service.
I spoke to Lt. Cohen again on Wednesday. He said that he discussed the complaint with his personnel to make sure no one makes people feel uncomfortable or unwelcome on public lands. Asked specifically what officer was involved and what the Lieutenant discovered, he said he still doesn’t know if the incident was exactly as described by the citizen. Lt. Cohen said he has not “had an opportunity” to speak to the officer implicated.
Lt. Cohen said first and foremost his people are not looking to make the public uncomfortable. He said his officers are assisting BLM in the petroglyph case and sometimes things people do prompt an inquiry.
Lt. Cohen said he did personally speak with the man who complained on our website and assured him the CHP does not want to make people feel unwelcome on public land. He did confirm that officers do use their cell phones to shoot pictures of identification for accuracy’s sake. He said they write down the information in computers later and destroy the photos.