News Flash Home
The original item was published from 12/20/2017 3:28:52 PM to 12/20/2017 3:30:57 PM.

News Flash

Sheriff's Office

Posted on: December 20, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Humboldt County Correctional Facility Sergeant Mitch Gratz set to retire this month

Photo of the Sheriff Honsal Shaking Gratz's hand

It was January of 1988. Twenty-one year old Mitch Gratz, dressed in blue jeans and a sweater, arrived for his first day of work at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility. Gratz was given a radio, which he slipped in his back pocket, and was sent to work in what’s now known as the “old jail.”

“It was more of like what you’d see in a prison,” Sgt. Gratz said. “You had bars and these big keys.”

Thirty years later, Gratz is now a Sergeant at the Correctional Facility preparing for retirement at the end of this month. Looking back on his three decades at the facility, he admits he never knew he was going to end up working at a jail, rather it was just something he “fell into.”Mitch Archive Photo

“It was kind of funny because I didn’t know if I wanted to do this at the start,” Sgt. Gratz said. “I was working for Pacific Lumber when a friend of a friend said you should go up and apply at the jail.”

After a series of testing and an extensive background check, Gratz was one of just three hired in early 1988 as Correctional Officers. Gratz was rapidly promoted in the early years, becoming a Jail Transportation Officer in 1990.

“At that time transportation was so different than it is now,” Gratz said. “Now we have dentists that come in the jail; I had to take everyone out to the dentist. Before the courts consolidated, I had to go to Arcata four days a week and bring inmates to the Arcata court...Garberville, Hoopa.”

Not only was transportation and the layout of the facility different from today, the process of booking and keeping records was much more intricate. Gratz learned to master that system, transferring back to a position in the jail as a Senior Correctional Officer in 1993.

“We had these computers, these DOS systems that had no memory,” Sgt. Gratz said. “Every day you had to hand type rosters (for the jail). If you did a booking, we had these little cards and every case was a new booking. But it never had any memory, so the next time the guy came in, it was a whole new thing.”

Photo of old booking cardBeing a quick typer and fast learner, Gratz often found himself booking inmates. He became familiar with court paperwork, thanks to his supervisor Sgt. Leslie Heller, making him the ideal candidate for a team that would make history at the facility. Gratz was assigned to a county IT team overseeing the implementation of a new computer management system which would take jail records into the digital age.

“It was a huge deal,” Gratz said.

The implementation was successful, cutting down hours of paperwork for jail staff. Gratz’s hard work on the project paid off and he was promoted again in 1995 to a highly sought after supervisorial position as a Sergeant. Around that time the Correctional Facility was undergoing another transition. This time, to a new facility and a new style of management.

In those days, the Correctional Facility was using the linear jail model. Linear style jails feature rows of cells with metal bars. This type of jail requires correctional deputies to periodically walk around and check on the inmates. One shortcoming of this model is that deputies cannot maintain constant supervision over every inmate. Essentially, inmates begin to learn that they only need to behave while the deputy is looking at them. This lack of supervision can lead to dangerous situations for deputies and other inmates.

Breaking away from the traditional linear jail model, the facility began to implement direct supervision. The direct supervision model was made to create a safer environment for deputies and inmates. Instead of inmates being locked in cells, direct supervision features an open floor plan where the deputy is in the dorm interacting directly with the inmates. This environment is more normal for inmates and encourages better behavior than the linear jail model.

“The whole direct supervision philosophy was so different,” Gratz said. “Buying into that and going through that whole change over from how an old jail, a linear jail, works to the new jail, was a huge transition for a lot of people and a lot of people didn’t make it; they couldn’t take the changes.”

Gratz held on through the transition, eventually being assigned to his current position as the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP) Supervisor. Inmates booked on non-violent charges are offered the opportunity to work on a SWAP team, serving out their sentence one day a week by completing community service labor. SWAP members can work at the Sheriff’s Wood Lot splitting wood for senior citizens, on the Sheriff’s Farm taking care of meat pigs and gardening to provide food for the jail and community, or on other tasks across the county. These program participants are able to live at home and keep their regular jobs while serving out their sentence. SWAP brought a much different environment for Gratz who was now, among other things, in charge of a farm.

“I’m making a lot of decisions on a farm and animals that I wasn’t used to doing,” Gratz said. “Our biggest barn out there, our pig barn, I tore that whole thing down and built a new barn with people that you have on SWAP.”

Despite transitions and challenges, Gratz says it was thirty years well spent.How Mitch looks today

“I’ve never regretted working here in the jail for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office,” Gratz said. “I’ve had bad weeks. I’ve had bad days. Everyone does. But I’ll never regret working here.”

Gratz’s last day is set for Dec. 29, 2017 but he won’t be going away any time soon. Gratz plans to work for the Sheriff’s Office as an extra help deputy, assisting in the jail and on the farm a few days a week. In his retirement Gratz plans to travel and to spend time with his two children, Chelsey and Bryce.

Gratz was recognized and commended for his 30 years of service at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 19, 2017.

“I saw Mitch Gratz’s retirement on here and I just wanted to tell him thank you for all of his years of work,” Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sunberg said during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting. “He was really awesome to work with and did a great job. I think the Sheriff’s department is really going to miss him. I know that we’re going to miss him. I hope he has an awesome retirement.”

Sheriff William Honsal and everyone at the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office are thankful for Gratz’s many years of service to the community and wish him success in his retirement.

Other News in Sheriff's Office

star 1080

Burglary Arrest

Posted on: February 7, 2024
star 1080

Pursuit Arrest

Posted on: February 6, 2024 | Last Modified on: July 2, 2019
star 1080

Humboldt County Correctional Facility 2023 Year in Review

Posted on: February 2, 2024 | Last Modified on: July 2, 2019
star 1080

Missing Person Located

Posted on: February 1, 2024
star 1080

Missing Person Located Safe

Posted on: January 31, 2024
star 1080

Missing Person: Mark Charles Burleigh

Posted on: January 30, 2024
star 1080

Missing Person Michael James Martin

Posted on: January 30, 2024
star 1080

Assault with a deadly weapon arrest

Posted on: January 19, 2024
star 1080

Recent Flood Evacuation Case

Posted on: January 18, 2024
star 1080

Human Remains Identified

Posted on: January 16, 2024
star 1080

Wanted Person

Posted on: January 12, 2024
star 1080

Missing Person Update

Posted on: January 11, 2024
star 1080

Explosive Device Arrest

Posted on: January 9, 2024
star 1080

Unidentified Human Remains Identified

Posted on: January 8, 2024
star 1080

Threat Report - McKinleyville High

Posted on: December 6, 2023
star 1080

In Custody Death Investigation

Posted on: December 1, 2023
star 1080

Brandishing Arrest

Posted on: November 30, 2023
star 1080

Wanted Person Arrest

Posted on: November 28, 2023
star 1080

Carjacking and Robbery Arrest

Posted on: November 22, 2023
star 1080

Attempted Homicide Arrest

Posted on: November 21, 2023
star 1080

Fentanyl Arrest

Posted on: November 21, 2023
star 1080

Attempted Homicide Arrest

Posted on: November 7, 2023
star 1080

Table Bluff Shooting

Posted on: November 7, 2023
star 1080

HCSO Missing Persons Investigation

Posted on: October 31, 2023
star 1080

Assault Weapon Arrest

Posted on: October 30, 2023
star 1080

Halloween Safety

Posted on: October 30, 2023
star 1080

Stolen vehicle arrest in Garberville

Posted on: October 18, 2023
star 1080

HCSO seeks help finding two missing persons

Posted on: September 28, 2023
star 1080

Orleans drive by shooting investigation

Posted on: September 27, 2023
star 1080

Hoopa OIS Update

Posted on: September 18, 2023
star 1080

Attempted murder arrest

Posted on: September 15, 2023
star 1080

Online scam costs local resident thousands

Posted on: September 8, 2023
star 1080

McKinleyville death investigation

Posted on: September 6, 2023
star 1080

Clam Beach assault

Posted on: September 1, 2023
star 1080

Ferndale-area vehicle theft arrest

Posted on: August 30, 2023
star 1080

DUI arrest

Posted on: August 30, 2023
star 1080

Willow Creek gas station assault

Posted on: August 23, 2023
star 1080

Power station vandalism

Posted on: August 23, 2023
star 1080

Attempted robbery arrest near Fortuna

Posted on: August 21, 2023
star 1080

Eureka-area burglary arrest

Posted on: August 17, 2023
star 1080

Mad River Beach arrest

Posted on: August 14, 2023
star 1080

Blue Lake felony warrant suspect arrest

Posted on: August 14, 2023
star 1080

Scotia EOD Investigation

Posted on: July 28, 2023
star 1080

Vehicle theft arrest

Posted on: July 17, 2023
star 1080

Swains Flat homicide investigation

Posted on: June 12, 2023
star 1080

Redway robbery investigation

Posted on: June 9, 2023
star 1080

Armed robbery investigation

Posted on: June 6, 2023
Critical Incident Video Humboldt County Sheriff's Office April 18, 2023

Critical Incident Video 4-18-2023

Posted on: June 2, 2023
star 1080

Missing Person Located Safe

Posted on: May 30, 2023
star 1080

Trinidad burglary arrest

Posted on: May 30, 2023
star 1080

McKinleyville armed robbery

Posted on: May 23, 2023
reduced rate dog adoptions May 22-26, 2023

Animal Shelter Reduced Rates

Posted on: May 22, 2023

Missing Person Located

Posted on: May 11, 2023

Missing Person Investigation

Posted on: May 10, 2023
star 1080

Hoopa Robbery Investigation

Posted on: May 5, 2023
star 1080

Blue Lake arrest

Posted on: April 24, 2023
star 1080

Samoa armed robbery investigation

Posted on: April 17, 2023
ANNUAL REPORT 2022 IMAGE

HCSO 2022 Annual Report Now Available

Posted on: April 17, 2023
star 1080

McKinleyville homicide investigation

Posted on: April 10, 2023
star 1080

Missing Person Investigation

Posted on: March 22, 2023
star 1080

Assault with a deadly weapon arrest

Posted on: March 20, 2023
star 1080

Redway death investigation

Posted on: March 17, 2023
star 1080

Carjacking suspect arrested

Posted on: February 27, 2023
star 1080

One arrested following Whitethorn assault

Posted on: February 27, 2023
star 1080

Possession of a stolen vehicle arrest

Posted on: February 24, 2023
star 1080

McKinleyville burglary suspects arrested

Posted on: February 23, 2023
star 1080

One arrested following assault

Posted on: February 21, 2023
star 1080

McKinleyville stabbing investigation

Posted on: February 14, 2023
star 1080

Redway arrest

Posted on: February 14, 2023
star 1080

Missing man located deceased in Trinidad

Posted on: February 14, 2023
star 1080

Man arrested following vehicle pursuit

Posted on: February 8, 2023
star 1080

Clam Beach search and rescue

Posted on: February 7, 2023
star 1080

McKinleyville death investigation

Posted on: February 7, 2023
star 1080

Two arrested during warrant service

Posted on: February 6, 2023
star 1080

Accidental death investigation

Posted on: February 6, 2023
star 1080

Pine Hill traffic stop leads to arrest

Posted on: January 31, 2023
star 1080

Garberville traffic stop leads to arrest

Posted on: January 17, 2023
star 1080

Freshwater burglary suspect arrested

Posted on: January 17, 2023
DONT FALL VICTIM TO DISASTER RELIEF SCAMS

Beware of Disaster Relief Scams

Posted on: January 10, 2023
star 1080

Elder abuse investigation

Posted on: January 9, 2023
star 1080

At-Risk Missing Person Located

Posted on: January 4, 2023
star 1080

Missing Person

Posted on: December 27, 2022
star 1080

Double Homicide

Posted on: December 27, 2022
star 1080

Bayside burglary suspect arrested

Posted on: December 19, 2022
star 1080

McKinleyville gas theft arrest

Posted on: December 16, 2022
star 1080

McKinleyville warrant arrest

Posted on: December 15, 2022
star 1080

Unintentional shooting investigation

Posted on: December 15, 2022
star 1080

King Salmon burglary suspect arrested

Posted on: December 12, 2022
star 1080

Domestic disturbance leads to arrest

Posted on: December 12, 2022
Snow covered mountains and trees

Snow safety begins with you

Posted on: December 8, 2022
star 1080

Carlotta home invasion armed robbery

Posted on: November 29, 2022
star 1080

Be alert to scams this holiday season

Posted on: November 28, 2022
star 1080

Glendale Assault

Posted on: November 28, 2022
star 1080

Possible dog poisoning incident in Cutten

Posted on: November 22, 2022
star 1080

One arrested following assault

Posted on: November 21, 2022
star 1080

Attempted murder arrest

Posted on: November 21, 2022
star 1080

Felony warrant arrest in Hoopa

Posted on: November 18, 2022
star 1080

Missing Bridgeville woman located deceased

Posted on: November 15, 2022
star 1080

Felony vandalism arrest

Posted on: November 15, 2022
star 1080

Eureka fentanyl sales arrest

Posted on: November 15, 2022
star 1080

One arrested following high speed pursuit

Posted on: November 10, 2022
star 1080

Two arrested in Manila for burglary

Posted on: November 4, 2022
star 1080

Blue Lake disturbance investigation

Posted on: November 1, 2022
star 1080

Willow Creek shoplifting assault

Posted on: October 31, 2022
star 1080

Honeydew missing woman and dog rescued

Posted on: October 26, 2022
star 1080

Willow Creek homicide investigation

Posted on: October 23, 2022
star 1080

Sexual Assault Investigation Update

Posted on: October 21, 2022
cover photo ois july 20

Critical Incident Video 7-20-2022

Posted on: October 18, 2022
star 1080

SWAT operation in Blocksburg

Posted on: October 17, 2022
star 1080

Sexual assault in McKinleyville

Posted on: October 16, 2022
star 1080

McKinleyville stabbing investigation

Posted on: October 10, 2022
star 1080

Willow Creek EOD Investigation

Posted on: October 5, 2022
star 1080

Man arrested following road rage incident

Posted on: September 30, 2022
star 1080

Bayside false imprisonment arrest

Posted on: September 23, 2022
star 1080

Garberville robbery arrest

Posted on: September 19, 2022
star 1080

Stolen vehicle recovery and arrest

Posted on: September 19, 2022
star 1080

Lucas Street EOD Investigation

Posted on: September 16, 2022
star 1080

McKinleyville stolen vehicle recovery

Posted on: September 12, 2022
star 1080

Willow Creek arson arrest

Posted on: September 12, 2022
star 1080

Attempted theft of catalytic converter

Posted on: September 6, 2022
star 1080

Early morning pursuit ends in arrest

Posted on: August 26, 2022
star 1080

Hydesville false imprisonment arrest

Posted on: August 19, 2022
star 1080

Assault and carjacking arrest in Manila

Posted on: August 18, 2022
star 1080

BB gun assault in McKinleyville

Posted on: August 17, 2022
star 1080

Assault suspect arrested

Posted on: August 10, 2022
star 1080

Arson arrest in McKinleyville

Posted on: August 10, 2022
star 1080

Hoopa domestic violence arrest

Posted on: July 29, 2022
star 1080

Vehicle theft arrest

Posted on: July 19, 2022
star 1080

Two hikers rescued near Bull Creek

Posted on: July 15, 2022
star 1080

Cutten robbery arrest

Posted on: July 5, 2022
WORK FROM HOME SCAM

"Work from Home" job offer scam

Posted on: June 28, 2022
Altered illegal firework

Cutten EOD Investigation

Posted on: June 28, 2022
star 1080

Arson Investigation Update

Posted on: June 16, 2022
star 1080

Wanted felon arrested in Willow Creek

Posted on: April 18, 2022
Annual report 2021 cover image

HCSO 2021 Annual Report Now Available

Posted on: April 14, 2022
An illegally dumped vehicle

Illegal dumping on the river bar

Posted on: April 6, 2022
star 1080

Three arrested for child endangerment

Posted on: March 28, 2022
star 1080

Man arrested following pursuit

Posted on: February 28, 2022
star 1080

Man arrested following assault in Eureka

Posted on: February 23, 2022
star 1080

Warrant arrest in Hoopa

Posted on: February 3, 2022
star 1080

Samoa Beach Robbery Investigation

Posted on: January 31, 2022
star 1080

Possession of a stolen vehicle arrest

Posted on: January 27, 2022
star 1080

Arrest made in burglary investigation

Posted on: January 27, 2022
star 1080

Early morning pursuit ends in arrest

Posted on: January 27, 2022
star 1080

Felony warrant arrest in McKinleyville

Posted on: January 19, 2022
gas cans

HCSO Deputies arrest gas theft suspect

Posted on: January 11, 2022
star 1080

Alderpoint homicide investigation

Posted on: January 6, 2022
star 1080

Loleta burglary suspect arrested

Posted on: January 3, 2022
star 1080

McKinleyville traffic stop leads to arrest

Posted on: December 30, 2021
star 1080

Trinidad Rancheria Death Investigation

Posted on: December 24, 2021
star 1080

Probation check leads to arrest

Posted on: December 20, 2021
star 1080

Mail theft arrest

Posted on: December 20, 2021
star 1080

Blue Lake armed robbery suspect arrested

Posted on: December 20, 2021
star 1080

French Camp Road snow rescue

Posted on: December 15, 2021
star 1080

Felony warrant arrest in Eureka

Posted on: December 14, 2021
star 1080

Deputies arrest wanted man near Blue Lake

Posted on: December 14, 2021
Two Sheriff patrol cars behind a stolen vehicle.

Pursuit ends in arrest near Hoopa

Posted on: December 10, 2021
star 1080

Arson arrest near Myrtletown

Posted on: December 9, 2021
211 suspect

Armed robbery at Trinidad gas station

Posted on: November 30, 2021
star 1080

Traffic stop leads to arrest near Loleta

Posted on: November 29, 2021
star 1080

Felon in possession of a firearm arrest

Posted on: November 29, 2021
star 1080

Fugitive from justice arrest near Arcata

Posted on: November 19, 2021
star 1080

Burglary arrest near Ferndale

Posted on: November 11, 2021
star 1080

Redway traffic stop results in arrest

Posted on: November 10, 2021
star 1080

Attempted Murder Arrest

Posted on: November 8, 2021
star 1080

McKinleyville stolen motorcycle arrest

Posted on: October 29, 2021
star 1080

Blue Lake Death Investigations Update

Posted on: October 25, 2021
star 1080

One arrested following vehicle pursuit

Posted on: October 22, 2021
star 1080

Myers Flat residential burglary arrest

Posted on: October 18, 2021
star 1080

Warrant arrest in Myrtletown

Posted on: October 13, 2021
star 1080

Possession of Stolen Property Arrest

Posted on: October 6, 2021
star 1080

Weitchpec Burglary Arrest

Posted on: September 22, 2021
star 1080

Attempted murder arrest in McKinleyville

Posted on: September 14, 2021
star 1080

Suspicious death investigation in Blue Lake

Posted on: September 11, 2021
star 1080

Myrtletown burglary arrest

Posted on: August 5, 2021
star 1080

Stolen vehicle recovery in Eureka

Posted on: August 2, 2021
star 1080

Fraudulent letter investigation

Posted on: July 30, 2021
star 1080

Eel River Drowning Investigation

Posted on: July 27, 2021
star 1080

Trinity River Drowning Investigation

Posted on: July 26, 2021
Missing woman Sky Vrbas

At-Risk Missing Person Found

Posted on: July 20, 2021
star 1080

Airplane crash investigation update

Posted on: July 16, 2021
Cenname Booking Photo

Theft investigation leads to arrest

Posted on: July 12, 2021
Cross Booking Photo

Possession of Stolen Vehicle Arrest

Posted on: July 12, 2021
MCMAHON BOOKING PHOTO

Orick homicide suspect arrested

Posted on: July 7, 2021
foley

Missing Person Investigation

Posted on: June 30, 2021
MAGUIRE booking photo

Car prowler arrest in Cutten

Posted on: June 29, 2021
star 1080

Orick homicide investigation update

Posted on: June 29, 2021
star 1080

Orick homicide investigation

Posted on: June 24, 2021
burglary suspects

ATM stolen during airport burglary

Posted on: June 23, 2021
long booking photo

King Salmon Burglary Arrest

Posted on: June 22, 2021
star 1080

Missing woman located deceased

Posted on: June 22, 2021
star 1080

Attempted vehicle theft arrest

Posted on: June 15, 2021
star 1080

Battery arrest

Posted on: May 17, 2021
Imitation Firearm compared to a real firearm

BB gun assault in King Salmon

Posted on: May 7, 2021
star 1080

Blocksburg Shooting Investigation

Posted on: May 4, 2021
SOTELO Booking Photo

Eureka pursuit arrest

Posted on: April 28, 2021
HURD Booking Photo

Improper use of 911 arrest

Posted on: April 26, 2021
star 1080

Stolen vehicle pursuit

Posted on: April 26, 2021
star 1080

Garberville Armed Robbery

Posted on: April 26, 2021
capture00 (2)

Orick gas theft

Posted on: April 23, 2021
star 1080

McKinleyville Robbery Investigation

Posted on: April 22, 2021
king salmon

Stabbing Investigation in King Salmon

Posted on: April 21, 2021
star 1080

McKinleyville Shooting Investigation

Posted on: April 20, 2021
star 1080

Willow Creek water rescue

Posted on: April 2, 2021
sand booking photo

Attempted murder arrest

Posted on: April 2, 2021
PRINCE Booking Photo

McKinleyville car prowler arrest

Posted on: March 26, 2021
Sheriff Star

Carjacking Investigation

Posted on: March 15, 2021
ORSENICO booking photo

Brandishing Arrest

Posted on: March 12, 2021
Sheriff Star

King Salmon Water Rescue

Posted on: March 11, 2021
AUBREY booking photo

Traffic stop leads to warrant arrest

Posted on: March 9, 2021
AGUIRRE Booking Photo

Drug smuggling arrest

Posted on: March 3, 2021
THURSTON Booking Photo

McKinleyville assault arrest

Posted on: March 1, 2021
KLEINER Booking Photo

Assault with a deadly weapon arrest

Posted on: March 1, 2021
LEE Booking Photo

Stolen vehicle arrest

Posted on: February 17, 2021
LEWIS_DERRICK_2

Weitchpec Shooting Investigation Update

Posted on: February 17, 2021
COLEGROVE Booking Photo

Hoopa attempted homicide arrest

Posted on: February 16, 2021
Sheriff Star

Shooting investigation near Weitchpec

Posted on: February 16, 2021
Sheriff Star

Bear River Homicide Investigation

Posted on: February 11, 2021
Sheriff Star

Dog attack investigation

Posted on: February 8, 2021
WILKINSON booking photo

Motorcycle pursuit ends in arrest

Posted on: February 1, 2021
Sheriff Star

Dog attack investigation

Posted on: January 29, 2021
Sheriff Star

Bell Springs Road Death Investigation

Posted on: January 27, 2021
TITUS BOOKING PHOTO 2021

Attempted murder suspect arrested

Posted on: January 26, 2021
SALAS BOOKING PHOTO

Hoopa Traffic Stop Arrest

Posted on: January 25, 2021
MAUPIN booking photo

Southern Humboldt Traffic Stop Arrest

Posted on: January 25, 2021
HAWKINS

McKinleyville missing person investigation

Posted on: December 18, 2020
Sheriff Star

McKinleyville Assault Investigation

Posted on: December 14, 2020
Mailboxes lined up on the side of a road

Protect yourself from holiday mail theft

Posted on: December 10, 2020
Sheriff Star

North Jetty Search and Recovery

Posted on: December 8, 2020
Sheriff Star

Headwaters Forest Search and Rescue

Posted on: December 7, 2020
Sheriff Star

HCSO seeking suspect in Arcata assault

Posted on: December 7, 2020
Sheriff Star

Humboldt Bay Boating Rescue

Posted on: December 4, 2020
ROUNTREE booking photo

Orick brandishing arrest

Posted on: December 4, 2020
Scam Alert

Beware of scams this holiday season

Posted on: December 3, 2020