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Full Bassler manhunt cost won't be known

The five-week manhunt this fall that ended with the shooting death of murder suspect Aaron Bassler in a rugged Mendocino County forest cost three of the participating agencies more than $600,000 in overtime, food, transportation, lodging and supply expenses.

More than a dozen agencies participated in the massive search near Fort Bragg but most did not track their time or costs.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, whose department led the operation, said the costs were unavoidable.

Shootout In Search For Aaron Bassler

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"I can't think of too many things we could have done to cut our costs," he said. "We certainly were not going to walk away from this." he said.

Allman said Mendocino County's costs for overtime, lodging and food for his and other agencies' law officers were $266,591. That does not include law enforcement officers' regularly scheduled work hours.

The officers were searching for Bassler, a mentally unstable Fort Bragg man accused of ambushing and killing Fort Bragg City Councilman Jere Melo and land trust manager Matthew Coleman in August shootings that were separated by two weeks time and many miles. The hunt ended when Sacramento Sheriff's Department snipers killed Bassler Oct. 1.

About 60 law enforcement officers and a few dogs combed the dense woods east of Fort Bragg on a daily basis. Bassler, who grew up spending time in the 400 square miles of forest east of Fort Bragg, proved a wily adversary by eluding capture several times.

Few of the assisting agencies kept track of the hours their employees contributed to the manhunt.

"It's just part of doing business," said Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry. He said he sent officers to assist when they were available.

The U.S. Marshals Service — a major contributor to the law enforcement power — also doesn't track the hours its officers spend assisting other agencies but it worked up estimates upon request.


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