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Juneau, AK 99801

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Juneau Police Department

Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"

Q. When someone gets arrested, for anything (mc, false information, DUI), do you guys ever look into the fact that they have a child
At home? Or is that conpletely irrelevant to you guys? I
Know a mom that has been arrested 3 times within a few months and the dad also the dad for DUI. this is not a good home for the child at all. I guess what I'm asking is if behavior causing you to get arrested several times, enough to make a report to OCS or does the child have to be directly harmed?

Dear Juneau Resident,

Everyday JPD does a screening of all incoming cases for referral to other agencies tasked with safeguarding vulnerable people. Those vulnerable people may be kids, senior citizens, or people with physical or developmental disabilities.

Officers who go into homes write reports that go to the Office of Children's Services (OCS)or other agencies and try to capture a snapshot of what was going on with any vulnerable person in the household. If there is a domestic violence call, officers will document if a child witnessed the event and the impact (child was on couch crying, etc...). Officers will also note if there was no food or toys visible, only alcohol containers. We know from experience that when OCS arrives the next day the parent will likely say the child slept through the whole thing and there will be fresh fruit on the counter, especially if the parent has been interviewed by OCS before.

A DUI with no child in the car wouldn't trigger an OCS referral unless there was a development like the parent says he or she was on the way to pick up the child at school. There would be some obvious legal problems with questioning a person on a DUI stop about having kids at home and investigating whether or not the kids are neglected unless there was some reason to believe a crime or neglect involving the children was happening. The police investigate crimes when there is reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed and the questioning on a DUI needs to be legally defensible. It's like if you get stopped for speeding, the officer can't start going through your grocery bags to make sure you paid for them and didn't steal the groceries.

It sounds like you have a lot more information about the kids than the officers making the DUI arrests did. I really hope, for the sake of the children, that you report the situation to OCS. Neighbors, friends, and associates usually know more about what is happening behind closed doors than the police do and we all have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves.


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