Police calls over the holidays in Haines and Skagway ranged from a small chimney fire, to a moose on the highway, and a protective order violation. But overall, there were no major incidents despite bad weather and the season of revelry.
If you take a quick peak at statewide news from the last couple of weeks, you’ll notice an uptick in law-enforcement activity. But in Upper Lynn Canal communities the holidays were blissfully uneventful for locals cops. Haines’ acting police chief Joshua Dryden says it was “wonderful.”
“Haines is not really a drunk-debauchery-type place. There was a little more going on last year.”
Dryden says especially on New Year’s Eve, when people might be tempted to drive home after having a few drinks, more people simply stayed home.
According to the Haines borough police blotter, there were complaints about fireworks, loud music and yelling. There was a call about a domestic violence situation that was defused at the scene, and a chimney fire. The fire happen out Mud Bay Road, but the caller reported no visible flames or smoke. The call was prompted when the thermometer read very high on the chimney. Haines police, the Alaska State Trooper and the Haines Volunteer Fire Department responded. According to the police department, the caller was able to extinguish the fire before responders arrived. Overall, Dryden says, nothing escalated to uncontrollable or life-threatening heights. Haines police responded to a vehicle that slid off the highway on New Year’s Eve, though no injuries were reported.
“It seems like people are being very responsible and I think it’s awesome,” Dryden says.
For trooper Dru Neason, it was same story: No major incidents over Christmas and New Year’s.
He says he did have to deal with a moose that was struck and killed on the Haines Highway on Dec. 28 – the meat was donated to Haines Assisted Living Center – and a small rock slide on the highway. There was a successful search and rescue effort on Dec. 26 on Mount. Ripinsky. Two snowboarders called troopers after getting stuck in a gulley coming down the mountain. Search teams were launched, but the pair eventually made it out of harm’s way on their own. As for New Year’s Eve, Neason says it was a pretty mellow night.
“I didn’t have any issues or problems at all, so, it was nice. Between the police department and the troopers, we made a concerted effort to have a presence and to make it clear to folks that we wanted everybody to have a good time, but we wanted everybody to be safe,” says Neason.
In Skagway, according to the police department, the holidays were “extremely quiet.” A couple of lost sets of car keys, but no DUIs. Not even a moose on the road. The Klondike Highway was closed on and off over New Year’s long weekend because of increased avalanche danger.
Back in Haines, acting chief Dryden adds that they are still looking for officers and might have a new recruit from Washington this month. A background check still needs to happen, but the new officer could be in Haines as soon as late January.
Last week, the assembly elected to hire an outside search firm to find Haines’ new permanent police chief. Dryden says he’s looking forward to getting back to his duties as sergeant and was hoping an interim chief would be found, but that search isn’t going well.
“Unless somebody just pops up out of nowhere and says ‘I want it’ and they’re qualified, I’d be more than happy to hand it over to them,” Dryden says.
Haines borough clerk Julie Cozzi says In the coming weeks, representatives from the firm Brimeyer Fursman will make their way to Haines to get to know the community, and start the search process for both a new chief and a permanent borough manager.