The number of reported crimes in Juneau dropped nearly 20 percent from 2011 to 2012, and the number of violent crimes recorded over the same period was down about 13 percent.
That’s according to the Juneau Police Department’s Annual Report, presented to the CBJ Assembly on Monday.
Violent crimes include homicides, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries and thefts. Last year was the second straight year without a murder in Juneau. The number of reported rapes dropped from 14 to 9, and there were nearly 150 fewer assaults and 100 fewer thefts.
Police Chief Bryce Johnson, who took over the top spot at JPD in May following the retirement of Greg Browning, called the drop in overall and violent crime rates “a shared community achievement.”
“And the Juneau Police Department is very proud to play our part in this community effort to drive down these crime rates,” Johnson said.
Lieutenant Kris Sell leads JPD’s Special Operations Unit. She says officers know there are still some crimes that go unreported, but she said it’s still quite an accomplishment to see a decrease in reported crimes.
Sell says the department is especially proud of a 23 percent increase in drug seizures last year.
“We consider this a very high priority,” Sell said. “Because the people who are abusing drugs are also committing burglaries to pay for those. They’re also committing assaults because of drug debts and the various politics that goes on within that subculture in the community. So drug work is criminal work.”
The total street value of illegal drugs seized in Juneau last year was over $1.1 million, up from about $895,000 in 2011. That’s in addition to a $6,000 increase in drug money seized, from $23,000 to $29,000.
Sell credits the spike in drug seizures to a more active partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, which allowed Postal inspectors to come to Juneau more frequently than in the past.
Bear ordinance changes approved, sludge contract awarded
The Juneau Assembly put more teeth into the city’s bear ordinance on Monday.
The stricter rules make clear that if a bear gets into a garbage container more than three times in a 30-day period, it is a bear attraction nuisance. The amended ordinance also gives Juneau police expanded authority to fine businesses and residents that violate the rules.
The vote to strengthen the ordinance was 8-1, with Assembly member Jerry Nankervis casting the lone no vote.
The Assembly also approved a bid award to Bicknell, Inc. for disposal of the city’s sewage sludge.
The five year contract is worth more than $1.6 million per year. That’s almost twice what the city has been paying landfill operator Waste Management under its current sludge disposal contract.
Sludge is the end product of the wastewater treatment process, and is also called biosolids.
Since 2011, Waste Management has been dumping the stuff either in the Lemon Creek landfill or at a facility in Arlington, Oregon.
Bicknell, Inc. submitted the only valid bid under the city’s project specifications. The city plans to cover the increased cost of disposal in the first year of the contract by tapping the wastewater reserve fund. After that the cost will likely be covered by a rate increase.
The contract was approved with no discussion as part of the Assembly’s consent agenda. However, some Assembly members said at the end of the meeting that they wanted to hear more about possible rate increases.
- The flag flies on public buildings and is often waved at sporting events, but it has not been a symbol the French personally embrace. That has changed dramatically in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks.
- Studies recommended relocating villages like Newtok, Kivalina and Shishmaref. But more than 10 years later they are still there, with waves getting higher and storms getting stronger.
- New research suggests Pacific halibut may adapt favorably to increased ocean temperatures. Greenland halibut may not be so lucky.
- “So what we’re seeing here is a giant step — a beautiful step — backward in time, where we’re remembering that there is no us versus them. There’s only us, and we are the people, and the people are the police."