Juneau police report a drop in overall crime, violent crime

Juneau Police Chief Bryce Johnson (left) and Deputy Chief Ed Mercer (right). File photo.

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

Trash can raided by a bear
Trash can raided by a bear. (Courtesy photo)

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.

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