This month the Haines Borough Police Department is taking on a new chief, the return of a recently resigned officer, and will see the departure of another. But, interim chief Josh Dryden says despite big changes, all is running smoothly.
Dryden says he’s ready to go back to the role of police sergeant. He’s been filling in as chief since November and over the past seven or so months, has tackled staffing changes, an officer accidently shooting himself in the wrist, and, most recently, the prospect of hiring a new chief.
Let’s start with the officers. Last month, Brayton Long, who joined the department in November handed in his resignation. He told KHNS he wanted to tap into his more creative side and start writing Alaska-themed children’s books. But recently, he changed his mind and rescinded his resignation. Here’s Dryden:
“He wants to continue to serve the community and he likes his job. He thought it would be in his best interest and his family’s best interest if he stayed on. I was fine with it, I was happy with it. I’m glad he’s staying.”
Long could not be reached for comment, but Dryden says he’s taking a few weeks off before coming back to the force.
“Brayton does a good job and I wasn’t looking forward to bringing somebody else in here also with having a new chief coming in,” Dryden says. “Having two new people is not the best situation.”
On June 18, Officer Jordan Welch will serve his last day as a Haines peace officer. Welch, who came from the department in Hoonah, has served in a temporary capacity since January. Dryden says he’s not sure what Welch’s plans are now, or if he’ll return to Hoonah. Dryden says he asked Welch to stay on, but he declined.
“If he chooses to stay in this line of work, I think whatever agency picks him up will be very lucky and very happy with his job performance.”
Dryden says Welch’s thoroughness, articulation, and willingness to help out in any situation made him an asset to the local department.
As for the first day for the new chief, Dryden says negotiations are currently in limbo.
Interim borough manager Brad Ryan says Washington, D.C.-based Heath Scott accepted the job, but the details of his contract have yet to be worked out. Ryan said in an email the borough’s new manager, Bill Seward, will be responsible for fleshing out the contract. Seward starts on June 20.
Dryden says he anticipates a speedy round of negotiations once Seward punches in.
When the new chief starts, the department will have four officers, including the newest hire, Chris Brown. The borough allots funding for four fulltime officers, including the chief. In the proposed FY17 plan, the department’s entire annual budget is up only slightly from last year at around $520,000. That includes everything from wages and vehicles, to training and utilities.
But Dryden is still not giving up on recruiting a fifth cop. He recently submitted a community policing grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice. The funds would supply 75 percent of salary and benefits to another officer for three years. The borough would pick up the rest.
There has been a job posting for a Haines officer for several months now, and Dryden says they’ll continue to accept applications. So far, he says, there has been one prospect that might be a good fit.
But he’s says, until he hears about the funding, expanding the force is still a ways off.