Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. How does JPD determine who to arrest and not? It seems like it should be determined by wether they committed a crime or not. Lately, I have seen some pretty serious incidents in juneau, yet there havent been any arrests. Specifically the stabbing that occured a couple months ago that you guys did such a great investigation on. The CRIMINAL (The guy who did the STABBING) is free because the VICTIM was too scared to call the police, for fear of HIM going to jail for being a VICTIM. So the CRIMINAL, the man who stabbed another man, calls police, gives them some story, and gets off scott free. Then, a couple weeks ago, there was a rape, and there was quite a hubaloo about it, what with police picking kids up, releasing one, moving the other, questioning people, giving people rides to the hosiptal for rape kits, yet i didnt see ANYTHING related to it in the juneau empire, not on the police website. Heres the kicker. I watched police arrest a man for calling a cop a fat pig. Come to find out, the man got 80 hours of community service, and a load of jailtime hanging over his head for it. How in the world do you police officers decide to arrest and criminalize a drunken young man, yet let stabbers and rapists run free. Is there statutes or something you guys follow when making arrests? If so, can you start doing it please so juneau can be safer?
Dear Juneau Resident,
There are a number of considerations when it comes to arrest decisions. Sometimes these decisions seem to not make sense because the officers are constrained about what they can say about an investigation, while the involved parties can give any version of the events they want to others. It is best to be suspicious when someone says the police did this really outrageous thing, there is a possibility the story is being shaded to appear outrageous. You can wait until the case is closed and request a copy with confidential information redacted. Those requests can be made through this website.
With any assault involving injury, the seriousness of the injuries and type of injuries are one part of the investigation but it's not the sole determination of who is the suspect and who is the victim. Sometimes self-defense creates injuries, even death, in a legal manner. Both sides of the story have to be explored and often neither side is eligible for a good conduct medal. Arrest and charging decisions come with the understanding that all of the behavior, on both sides, will discussed in court.
Sexual assaults cases are a whole other issue when it comes to timing. The analysis of evidence and the extensive interviewing can take a great deal of time. DNA analysis can take months. It's not like on television where a match pops up on a computer screen before the next commerical break. Some of our most sensitive cases are the ones where we don't want to start the clock ticking toward a speedy trial with an arrest. JPD officers work closely with the prosecutors to balance the need for time to investigate, gather evidence, and do testing against the risk to public safety. Arrests can sometimes end the investigation when the conviction rests on the investigation continuing for a period of time.
The situation of someone calling an officer a name and getting arrested, I am guessing, is part of a larger picture. Name calling is not a crime in most situations. It is something we often see when there are fights downtown the safety of many people are at risk. Those calls, when lots of intoxicated people are in the area, can quickly lead to numerous assaults on bystanders. Officers are looking for the instigators of the fighting and name calling in conjuction with other behavior is the kind of thing officers are supposed to notice and consider.
JPD even has experience with people told over and over to leave the area of a fight or disturbance and that person, usually intoxicated, refuses and keeps starting conflicts until they get arrested. JPD officers are trained to give warnings but if warnings are not heeded, the officer has no choice but to follow through with the consequences.