Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Monday, July 18, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/ City of Seward/ 7-18/2011

Bill Says: I arrived in Seward in September of 1984, having flown in at the department's request and housed in the Seward Fire Department's guest room. Mona was to soon follow by driving over 1,000 miles, with two very young children, (Joshua was only a month old and James 2 yrs), escorted by one over-sized Newfoundland dog named Radar, and assisted by a very  kind oldest brother who was lending us a big hand to help in our move. Chuck ended up having Radar ride with him and they got along pretty well. Chuck would end up staying with us to work on the new Seward Coal facility. Soon to follow would be Mona's other brother Troy, his wife Leslie and their children. Years later, Mona's older sister Sally and her husband Leo would move to Seward. Sally and Leo's four children would also come to Seward at various times to work. Even my brother Larry would come to Seward and he was often in need a good bath, having lived on the road for some time. We joked about his socks being able to stand up by themselves and boy, they stunk!

Seward was a coastal community of some 3,500 people, located on the southeastern shores of the Kenai Peninsula and about 120-miles south of Anchorage. Seward was also set on the north shore of the Resurrection Bay. This was an ice free deep water port, home to a large fishing industry, the Alaska Railroad's southern end of the line and a booming shipping line for cargo and bulk freight. Three of the largest barges in the world; triple-decks and were towed into Seward by ocean going tug boats.

Seward had been severely hit by the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and the follow-up tsunami waves. It was also home to the July 4th Mt.Marathon Race and the August Silver Salmon Derby. It could be a busy place for the police, especially back when open liquor containers and fireworks were allowed on city streets, and the bars didn't close until 5 a.m. During the 4th of July celebration, Seward was visited by the three state chapters of the Hell's Angels and their wanna-be's, trying to impress the angels, created a lot of problems for the police.

Seward was also home to the Alaska Vocational Tech School, (AVTEC), and people from all over the state came here for various trade schools. Sadly, some of these people came from dry villages and with the liquor flowing through the town, it was often too much for these young adults. Many of them ended up in our jail cells and then sent home.

When I was hired over the phone by Seward Police, which was highly unusual, the department was smack in the middle of hostile events with the local labor union. The long shore men were on strike and causing problems on the dock. Prior to my arrival a major disturbance occurred between police and laborers, resulting in several arrests and some injuries on both sides. One of my first pieces of equipment to be issued was a riot helmet with protective visor. But soon after my arrival things settled down and the strike ended.

I was assigned to Corporal Mike, who would show me the town. The department consisted of a police chief, lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and 4 officers. We had really great dispatchers working with us and in the lower level of the department was the city jail. There was always a jail guard working, maintaining three short term cells, a larger long term cell and a cell for females or juveniles. On some nights, if there were no prisoners, the jail guards would often ride along with the patrolman.

Corporal Mike was also a dog handler and his canine was narcotic trained. When Mike found out I was K-9 trained, he was overjoyed. Now he had someone able to do aggressive drills with his huge German Shepard. I trained with him, catching his dog and letting him have a good bite of my protective arm sleeve. I'd worked with a lot of dogs in the military, having worked sentry, patrol and narcotic dogs and enjoyed the work out. I had hoped the dog would be assigned to me later on, but the city didn't want the insurance costs of having the dog and sold it to Mike for $1. This was a dog valued at $10,000 and he got it for a $1. I was envious. Mike would eventually become police chief, but long after I had left Seward, and I was glad for him. A former Marine he had gone through the Battle of Khe Sanh, Viet Nam in 1968, and it had left a mark on him. He also liked to work out with weights a lot and enjoyed having me as a work out partner. Though getting all sweaty in the middle of a shift was not all that enjoyable for me- no shower.

After two weeks of riding with Mike, the lieutenant, who really liked my size, assigned me to the midnight to 8 a.m. shift. From about 1 a.m. through 8 a.m., I worked alone and found myself making a whole lot of arrests for Disorderly Conduct, DWI and drugs. I had kept some stats for my own use and during 1985 I had made 340 arrests and 85 of these were for DWI.

During Halloween of 1985, we dressed up one jail guard and one officer in full costume, ( one as a bunny and one as a clown), to make drug buys through out the town. They were wired so we could record the buys and then we moved in quickly to make the arrests. We made I believe 14- arrests that night for the sale of cocaine and it led to the arrest of one low level supplier. I was hauling one suspect out of the Yukon Bar, when some of the locals tried to stop me. But they backed down and I was able to move through the crowd without any trouble.

One of the other officers and I had a lobster dinner bet going in 1985 for who made the most DWI arrests. He lost. He had the record for 1984 of 60 something arrests. For every DWI arrest I made though, I let two others off by sending them home with another driver or a cab. I often based my arrests on the person's attitude. If he wanted to cuss at me, swing at me or simply refuse to do anything by standing there and ignoring me, they went to jail. I had a lot of good-natured drunks who ended up going home instead of jail. I knew what a DWI arrest could do to some one's insurance, his job and his home life. But some of them had to go to jail, especially those with prior records for the same offense. I had one guy who was out driving on a revoked license and this was his 7th DWI conviction. He went to jail for 8-months. I also went around the bars just before closing so the customers would know I was out and about and hopefully they'd get a ride home.

In 1985 we got the open container law enforced and no more fireworks on the peninsula. The fireworks law was imposed after a little girl was killed. Her father was intoxicated and accidentally tossed a lit bottle rocket into his car, which was loaded with fireworks. Things began to settle down some then in the downtown area, but the 4th of July celebrations were still a busy time for us. More later.

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