Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 4 of 14

Things were a little more calm and controlled at work today, for which I'm quite grateful.  It's been an 'interesting' week.

Tonight there is only 1 musher left on the Yukon Quest trail.  Jocyline LeBlanc is on the Takhini River, working her way toward Whitehorse.  In a few hours she will extinguish the traditional red lantern, indicating that all the mushers are accounted for and safe.

Terry Williams, another "back of the pack" musher in the race scratched at Braeburn following the death of one of his dogs.  Preliminary necropsy report is that the dog died of an undetected and unexpected cardiac event.  More details should be available once lab work has been completed on tissue samples.  There is no indication of wrongdoing on the part of the musher.

'Wild' Dogs May Be Shot by Bethel Police

According to an A.P. story that just surfaced this afternoon, police officers in Bethel, Alaska intend to seek authority to shoot dogs on the spot unless residents do a better job of keeping their pets from running wild.  According to the story, there has apparently been an issue with stray dogs biting people and the situation has gotten out of hand.  As in many coastal areas of Alaska, there is significant concern that stray dogs my contract rabies, which is common among foxes in the region.  "On Thursday alone, the police department received seven reports of wild dogs, including of one that killed a leashed dog."

Opinion - Vigilantism Inevitable when Police Perceived as Ineffective

According to an article in the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska State Troopers are investigating the actions of a pair of "vigilantes" alleged to have forcibly arrested two young fugitives accused of in a series of burglaries in Anchor Point.    There was a similar case in the Fairbanks area a few years ago, in which a pair of men were arrested after tracking down thieves who had stolen a snow machine from one of the men.  The major similarity in both cases is that troopers were aware of the original crimes, yet were perceived as 'doing nothing' to solve them or to return stolen property to the rightful owners. 

Historically, vigilance committees were formed in mining camps when the degree of lawlessness in the camps reached an intolerable level.  Even in regions under the jurisdiction of authorized law enforcement officers, when the "authorities" were perceived as ineffective, citizens took the law into their own hands as a matter of self-defense.  The problem is that citizens with little or no law enforcement training are likely to use a degree of force that is excessive.  According to the article, that was almost certainly true in Anchor Point. 

I find the Anchor Point situation a bit vexing.  According to the article, there are 4 troopers stationed in that small community, a number described as "enough to reasonably handle the local caseload."  Apparently the locals didn't feel the local caseload was being reasonably handled.  

It's obvious that AST has a public perception problem, one that is made worse because the agency apparently doesn't much care how the public perceives their efforts.  It's a shame, because at one time AST was a department worthy of respect.  


  1. I read the ADN story on the Anchor Point Break-ins and in my opinion the citizens did not appear to have used excess force. Dave in NC

  2. The citizen vigilantes are reported to have accosted a person not involved in the burglaries, threw him up against a truck, punched and choked him. That person not only was not involved in the burglaries, but even assisted someone who was a victim of the thugs.

    That qualifies as assualt and battery in anybody's jurisdiction and frankly if they had done that to me the result would have probably been a gun-fight.

    The point is, when the 'professionals' are preceived as not doing their job, then amateurs will try to do it instead. Unfortunately, most amateurs know nothing more than they've observed on television, just enough to get themselves or someone else injured or killed.

  3. Thanks for "the rest of the story"! You are right! Remember the movie, "The Oxbow Incident" with Henry Fonda. Frontier justice gone a muck!