Many Anchor Point residents are fed up with crime in the community. Residents say they are angry with not only what seems to be a high level of thefts and break-ins, but also by what they see as an inadequate response from Alaska State Troopers.
Kristin Craver has hit a breaking point with crime in the community. She said there have been thefts in her neighborhood, and she regularly hears about break-ins, stolen vehicles and other crimes.
Craver said nothing has been stolen from her house, but several parts have been stripped off her jeep that sits at the bottom of her driveway, and a friend’s trailer that sits on her property was also broken into.
“I have nine dogs so they would be a little out of their mind to actually come up to where my cabin is because they probably wouldn't get very far,” she said. ”You know nine dogs and a weapon but one shouldn't have to live like that, you know?”
Anchor Point residents gathered for two community meetings earlier this month to express their frustrations to troopers. Craver and others in the community say Senate Bill 91, a criminal justice reform bill passed in 2016 and a lack of law enforcement in the area are creating a free-for-all for criminals.
“The state just kind of seems to ignore it,” she said.
Craver did report the incidents on her property, but she said she never followed up on the paperwork because she’s seen others go down the same road with the police without any success. Craver and others are trying to seek a solution.
Troopers did attend the first meeting and talked with residents about a number of options of how to deal with crime from contacting legislators to recording serial numbers on your items. But no officers were present at the second gathering at the VFW in town.
Sergeant Daniel Cox, the lead trooper in Anchor Point, said his department is woefully understaffed.
“So we have a priority of calls that we have to deal with and it could be you know minutes, hours, days before we get to something, absolutely, unfortunately," he said.
But lately, the wait time has been getting worse. The department should have five troopers on staff including Cox, and on paper, all those positions are filled.
“But in reality, I have one trooper on military leave,” Cox said. “One trooper is in long-term injury leave, and we just recently filled the fifth position with a trooper that moved from a different location.”
That’s left the department with just two troopers to patrol an area that goes from Clam Gulch to Voznesenka.
Cox said that’s left the Anchor Point trooper post spread thin. He had barely even had enough time to spare for an interview.
Sargent Cox said there is merit to the community’s concerns. While he doesn’t have statistics, he believes there have been more break-ins and thefts in Anchor Point, but he doesn’t think crime has spiked as much as some say.
Cox said the frustration in the community is also making more residents aware of crime around town.
But things may change. Governor Bill Walker signed a wide-ranging crime bill into law this month that eliminates mandatory release for those arrested for lower-level felonies and misdemeanors.
The bill reinstated a judge’s ability to consider a defendant’s out-of-state criminal history when deciding whether or not to release them prior to their trial. SB91 stripped judges of that ability when it was passed into law.
“The judge had to just let you go,” Wasilla Representative Cathy Tilton said to Anchor Point residents. “Now because of HB 312, that pre-trial assessment tool now gives that discretion back to the judges in all instances.”
Tilton has dealt with similar crime issues in her district and spoke with Anchor Point residents about HB312. She also encouraged residents to help mitigate crime through a community watch or patrol program.
“People going out from a time period to a time period and driving through that area and continuing to go into the areas where they know that people are doing shenanigans and keeping track of what's happening and keeping a log of that kind of thing,” she explained.
The idea of being the eyes and ears of law enforcement hit home with the roughly thirty residents who attended the second meeting. Jerry Morey, who said he’s been robbed multiple times, offered to be part of the watch or patrol.
“We have a problem, a problem that needs to be addressed,” he said. “It's not getting addressed by our law enforcement or our laws.”
Morey and few others at the meeting said if things don’t improve in the area, residents may have to take the law into their own hands.