City and Borough of Juneau
155 S. Seward Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
tel. 907-586-5240
fax 907-586-5385

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Q. While police officers are at a house where the ocupant has died of natral causes, waiting for a corner, is it common for the officers to look through boxes, nightstands, dressers, etc? If so what are they looking for and why?

Dear Juneau Resident,

At this type of call officers are collecting any medication the person took. This is standard protocol for deaths that were not attended by a doctor. The officers will look for and collect not only prescription meds but over the counter medications.

Medical files and doctor appointment cards may also be important to find any doctor that was recently treating the person. There may also be a suicide note tucked away for the family that the police would want to find. Other paperwork might indicate a particularly stressful time in a person's life, like an eviction notice or other signs of financial problems, or correspondence with family that is particularly negative. These signs could steer the investigation toward possible suicide or even point out someone who might have wanted something bad to happen to the deceased person.

The police department can't settle on a cause of death of natural causes until other possibilities are examined.


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