No good deed goes unpunished

We have a local Salvation Army here in Juneau. They
run a thrift store and use the money earned for
projects to help the needy in town. In front of their
store are numerous signs that say “Don’t leave
Donations Here after hours”. Of course, people make a
habit of dropping off crap there after hours. Much of
it is no good, and the SA ends up paying to take it to
the dump.

I end my shift for the state job in the evening. Many
times, I’ve seen newly left crap in front. Usually,
it’s on the weekends, after people have their garage
sales. I always hoped to catch people leaving their
stuff there illegally, and on Sunday night, I finally
did. A van was off loading box after box after box of
crap and leaving it in front of the store. The van
lights were trained on the sigh that said don’t leave
donations here after hours.

I called my local police department, with the vehicle
description and license plate number, etc. The
dispatcher told me it was a civil matter between the
business and those leaving the stuff! I said so I can
go dump my crap on my neighbors lawn and they’ll have
to take me to court to get me to clean it up or remove
it? The dispatcher said she didn’t know the answer to
that question.

The next day, I wrote a letter to the editor of the
Juneau Empire and sent the same letter to our fearless
Assembly. Two days later, after the assistant police
chief had called the SA and talked with Assembly
members, he only called me after he saw my letter
published in the paper. He told me the dispatcher
“dropped the ball” and should have sent an officer.

I thought, sweet! Now we can get down to arresting
the people. The police assistant chief chuckled and
said no, the police weren’t going to do anything
because I did’t indentify what was in the boxes they
left in front of the building!

Apparently, if you report a crime here in Juneau, you
are to inventory everything the culprits are dumping
on private property, perhaps in alphabetical order and
by color. I also perhaps should have fingerprinted
them, taken a DNA swab, and a plater-or-paris mold of
their tires.

One of my assemblymen told me that there’s nothing the
police could do because I couldn’t identify what it
was they left there, and that it would be “my word
against theirs” if they denied it. He said I should
have had a photo of the scene or the stuff left
outside the store. The stuff was piled up in front of
the store – what else does someone need to do but go
over there and say, “Yup, that there’s some stuff. Is
this the stuff they left Mr. Stopha” to which I’d
reply “Yup, that’s the stuff I saw them leave”.
Pretty intense stuff, that police work.

This is the fourth incident I’ve had over the years
for which I’ve called the Juneau Police Dept., and not
one time have they responded. Once was when my truck
windows were smashed and my fire extinguisher
discharged all over the inside of my truck, with hand
prints everywhere. Twice, our house was vandalized by
students my wife had disciplined and who we knew the
kids who had done it (kids have to brag at school, and
it doesn’t take long for it to get back to my wife).
This incident makes four. My assembly man told me
that this would “probably have the effect of getting
better response out of JPD next time around”. Sorry
Charlie, four times and no response doesn’t give me
much faith in number five.

The older I get, the more I believe individuals really
can’t make a difference in government or politics. If
I’d have been on the Assembly or the Police Chief, you
can bet your life the police would have sent someone
over to investigate. But a private citizen calling in
to report a crime at a non-profit? Not gonna happen.
Always something more pressing to do than check out a
crime in progress. When you are at the scene watching
a crime happen, describing it to the police
department, and nothing happens, you realize how
futile such actions are. You either have to drive on
by, or take action yourself. And who knows if there’s
a weapon in that van, or the people might be on drugs,
or whatever – oh yeah, that’s what we pay the police for.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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