Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. I'm wondering why if prescription pain pill sales/use is such a big issue, the crime line program is so poorly manned and unresponsive? I know of multiple people that had submitted information on the crime line, through the web tips program and through the police department and the same old folks keep up the same behaviors?
Dear Juneau Resident,
Prescription drug diversion and dealing is a huge issue in Juneau. JPD puts lots of resources into investigating these cases and making cases that can go in front of a jury and result in a guilty verdict or that a suspect will plead to rather than face a jury.
Lets start at the lowest level of proof needed for the police to act. First, we have to have probable cause to make the arrest. Think of that as proof to at least a 51% certainty. But it's important not to jump too quick to the arrest if you don't have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty. Think of beyond a reasonable doubt as in the high 90%, maybe 98%ish, range of proof. Generally, with drug dealers, the way to get more evidence about drug sales once you start watching them is to have them out and selling so that evidence is created and collected. An example of the type of evidence the police are seeking would be a recorded buy with an informant.
It is understandable that lots of people want to call in drug information and want to be anonymous. Drug dealers and users are often associated with weapons and violence. You can't blame someone for hesitating though JPD really wants people to be willing to come forward and do the right thing by the community.
Here is a way to keep drug tips in a legal perspective. Imagine that building a case is like building a wall that keeps the suspect away from society. An anonymous tip is a brick, it helps but isn't going to get you there by itself. A named source providing information that can be verified, like flights into Juneau, is more like a wheelbarrow full of bricks. A recorded delivery of drugs or sale to an informant is a truck load of bricks.
A situation police always want to avoid is empowering drug dealers by taking them to court prematurely, without enough evidence, and losing the case. It creates a pain right in the pit of the stomach to see that happen. These people are poisoning families all around them and killing futures right and left. Any investigation that results in that person getting to walk laughing out the back of the courtroom instead of through the side door in handcuffs to prison is very, very bad.
We share your frustration as we work these long-term, difficult investigations.