Should the Haines Police Department stop responding to 911 calls outside of its service area? Haines Assembly member Tom Morphet thinks so.
“This is gonna bring this whole issue to a head faster than anything,” Morphet said. “If we stop providing that service and there’s a hue and cry from people outside ‘we need service, we need service,’ they’ll be in here and they’ll tell us exactly what service they want and how they want to pay for it.”
So far, many outer borough residents have said they do not want an expansion of police service.
The dilemma was forced on the borough several months ago, when the Alaska State Troopers pulled its Haines-based post. That trooper was the main law enforcement for areas outside of the Haines townsite. The local police department is funded only for the townsite service area.
The troopers’ ability to respond to outer borough emergency calls is diminished. So, Haines police are increasing their activity outside the townsite. Police Chief Heath Scott says it’s a moral duty to respond to areas left in limbo by the trooper withdrawal.
The borough assembly is torn between that ethical obligation and the feedback they’ve heard from many outside townsite residents.
“We’ve put ourselves in a really weird situation where we’ve agreed to go into somebody else’s jurisdiction because it’s the right thing to do?” Morphet said.
He made the motion to stop police response outside their jurisdiction at the very end of last week’s assembly meeting. In order to give public notice that the assembly is considering the idea, the group decided to postpone it to Sept. 26.