Anchor Point residents are looking to form neighborhood watch groups following complaints that Alaska State Troopers aren't responding to calls. Tensions are rising over the perception that crime in the area is spiking, though crime stats aren't available.
The 70 or so Anchor Point residents that packed into a senior center Tuesday evening are fed up with crime in their community. The head of the Anchor Point Trooper post attended to answer questions about state-sanctioned neighborhood watch groups but the meeting quickly dissolved.
“When may I kill the bastard?” one audience member asked as others applauded him.
Frustrations were apparent, and there were overtones of vigilantism. One group stood in the corner with shirts that read “Tweaker Hunter.”
Anchor Point resident Geri Glasgow found that sentiment counterproductive.
“You better watch what you’re saying because that’s what everything is cranking up, it’s scary,” she responded.
Sgt. Daniel Cox runs the Anchor Point Trooper Post, which he said is down two troopers. He told the group that means there are times when the post is unstaffed and it takes longer to respond.
As far the comments about using deadly force, he told residents that they need to stay within the bounds of the law.
“If you, god forbid, find yourself in a situation where you have to use deadly force, you are going to have to explain to investigators why you took that action,” Cox explained.
It's clear that tensions are rising. What isn't known is whether crime is actually up. Alaska State Troopers couldn't immediately provide crime stats for its Anchor Point post. A public records request filed by KBBI is pending.
About 30 people returned to the senior center the following morning for a workshop on forming neighborhood watches and practical tips on securing their homes.
“When I talk about design, I’m talking about the physical design of a space, whether it’s your property, whether it’s your neighborhood,” Naomi Sweetmen told participants as she conducted the class.
Sweetman works for the Department Public Safety and gives advice on what's called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED.
”The criminal looks at a home or an environment and says – and an animal does the same thing – this is a good place or a bad place,” she explained.
Bob Stark attended the workshop. He lives on Tall Tree Avenue, a rural stretch of road that has a reputation. He likes the idea of a neighborhood watch, but he said his neighbors mostly keep to themselves.
“It’s just basically barricade yourself in your place, put a gun next to the door and think if someone comes in here, I’m going to shoot,” he said. “I don’t want to shoot anybody. I don’t even want a gun.”
Sgt. Cox thinks neighborhood watches could help push crime outside of the community, but he said it will take more take more than just one neighborhood to be effective.
“Every major initiative starts with somebody grabbing the reins and going forward, and I think we have that here,” he added.
But the real test will be whether these isolated neighbors on the Kenai Peninsula are willing to come together for a common cause.