Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/Dillingham Cases/ 7/5/11

Bill Says: This is my 2nd attempt to write this entry. The first attempt, nearly finished, simply vanished and I couldn't locate it again. Anyway, this is my last entry for the Dillingham cases and will move on to my Skagway cases. Understand, I had a lot more notable cases in Dillingham, but these were the ones I wanted to record and didn't want to write a book about it. There were homicides, sexual assaults and child abuse cases, plane crashes and boats sinking. But I wanted to closeout Dillingham with the strange happenings of our last days there and how Mona and I barely escaped with our lives and of how there were a few moments there I wasn't sure we were going to make it out of town. The entire department had resigned over a heated issue and I was left as the only officer for a two week period, with the closest back-up being in Anchorage.

I've told this story to my children and family members, and they have often looked at me with eyes of disbelief. But war stories are like that. Only those who have lived through them truly feel the actual fear and excitement. But what I say here is true and the effect it had on us only hardened Mona and I's relationship- for we had gone through the fire together and I discovered just how strong willed and courageous my beloved wife was.

I was scheduled to attend the police academy in October through November of 1981, but this didn't happen. For in the fall of that year, after all the visitors, workers and fishermen had departed town, a rather strange set of events was to transpire.

It began with a simple disturbance call out to one of the aircraft charters at the airport. The new owner and the old owner and his son were getting into it over a financial issue. Sgt Rick and Officer Andy were dispatched. Andy was just coming on duty and he had gone along to back-up Rick. The disturbance escalated and Rick was forced into a situation where he had to arrest the old owner and his adult son for Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Trespassing. The man and his son didn't take it well and threatened, "I'll have your badge for this!"

Within days, this old owner, who had lived in town for over 20-years and was white, stirred up all his old friends and trouble developed. enough trouble that Chief Gray had us working twelve hour shifts and CJ was back riding with me. The old owner had money in the local radio station and soon, the station was inviting people in to state their old grudges against the police. A lot of these were unfounded and had come from long before Chief Gray took over. Some were down right idiotic, but they were given radio time. The bars turned real nasty, with us walking into taunts, threats and a lot of obscene words. But the chief ordered us not to take any actions unless assaulted physically. It was tough. By this time, Mona had left her job at the bank and was now working for the new owner of the charter service and with so much trouble arising, she was carrying one of our revolvers in her purse.

At one point, our dispatcher received a report of a disturbance from the Woman's Crisis Center. This was the home for battered women and we occasionally visited there when irate husbands showed up to claim their spouses. This place was located at the very end of Wood River Road, isolated and off of a cuddle sack surrounded by 6-8 foot tall bushes shaped in a u-shape. A single lane dirt road went down a steep hillside to reach the woman's center.

On our way there, our dispatcher received another call from our former dog catcher- Norman, who warned that we were driving into an ambush. Friends of the old owner had decided to escalate the situation. Our dispatcher than called the crisis center and learned they had no problem. So, CJ and I decided to pull up onto a knoll we knew of that overlooked the cuddle sack and kept our blazer hidden from view. We had learned of this place by making some juvenile drug busts out there. We waited. We saw no vehicles, but knew there was another area off in the distance to park vehicles and be hidden. Thankfully, we pulled into our area and not theirs. Sure enough, about 15-minutes of nervous watching with binoculars, the heavy brush began to move and 7-8 men stepped out with rifles in their hands. We would've driven right into it and I probably wouldn't be typing this now if we had. I gave Norman a big hug later.

Now, I should say at this point that the native population of the town had stayed behind us. We had a good and trusting relationship with the Aleut and Eskimo people of Dillingham.But the white people had really gone sour toward us and the looks we got was disheartening to say the least. Sadly, there was only one native council member and this eventually led to a showdown. The council summoned Chief Gray, who ordered us to stay at the department and not attend the council meeting or even be seen around the city hall building. The meeting was being carried over the local radio. By this time we had a lot of run-ins with loud mouth locals and a lot of arrests were made. Our state trooper was dispatched out of town, so he wasn't able to assist us and maybe that was fortunate for him. He would've sided with us and the political problems and eventual fall out would've effected his career.

Chief Gray stood silently as he was taunted by the attending crowd and hit with several insults by the town council. Eventually the native council member stood up in disgust and departed. This came after one council member told Chief Gray, "Do what you want with the natives, but leave us white folks alone!"

They ordered Chief Gray to dismiss all charges against the old owner and his son, but Chief Gray refused. The then ordered the suspension of Sgt Rick and Andy for official misconduct. Again he refused. Chief Gray then took his badge off and placed it on the table before the council and announced his immediate resignation.
He then departed and returned to the station. The council then took it upon themselves to suspend Sgt Rick and Andy. When they heard this over the radio, they handed their badges over to the Chief and announced their immediate resignations. CJ then resigned too. Leaving me. I couldn't resign. Mona and I didn't have enough money in the bank to leave Dillingham and needed one more pay check. I told the Chief I would be leaving in two weeks. I still had an 8-man reserve department to support me, but the next day the city manager disbanded the reserve department. Three of the dispatchers resigned too, but two of them stayed on for the next two weeks.

It was now up to me to respond to all of the calls and without back-up of any kind, unless it came in from Anchorage. The department and all its equipment was now in my hands and I felt like throwing up. I had all the patrol vehicles parked at our apartment so I could watch over them. I then went on the local radio and advised the community I would only respond to emergency calls. Everything else had to be reported at the station to the dispatchers. I left one shotgun with the dispatchers, knowing they knew how to use it. I then had to go to work inventorying all the equipment to be handed over to the next chief. The council also ordered I no longer carry my nightstick, but was able to persuade them it was safer for me to carry it or I'd be forced to shoot some people without having my nightstick to handle the problem. The first week went by. I kept one shotgun by our bed and another by the front door. A lot of threats were made, but no actual attempts on our lives. Mona had to quit, but was still carrying her weapon as she was my only back-up. I escorted all the officers and the chief to the airport to ensure they flew out safely. CJ's wife, who had only recently flown up from Oregon to be with him, ended up having a nervous breakdown at the Anchorage airport and needed to be hospitalized. Sgt Rick returned to Texas, Andy went to Homer, Chief Gray to Washington state and CJ to Oregon.

I was interviewed by Anchorage papers, Anchorage radio and some Seattle people. The council tried to get me to drop the charges against the old owner and his son, but the charges were now in the DA's hands and I wasn't going to have them drop. I mean really, this guy tried to get me killed.

Then the Alaska State Troopers stepped in an a trooper corporal and two town tamer troopers moved in to assist me. One of the troopers, known to be a trouble shooter, began riding with me and boy, did we get into a lot of fight together. He was the best man I'd ever seen with a PR-24 nightstick and he just loved to fight. Once he had his uniform shirt torn off of him and he just smiled as he weighed in. We made a lot of arrest that week. Now it was time for Mona and I to leave. I gave my badge over to the City Manager, but felt like spitting on his desk top. He never supported us. I gave my inventory logs over to him and presented one copy to the trooper corporal to ensure nothing hinky went on with all the evidence stored at the department.

The troopers escorted Mona and I to the airport and we flew south. I couldn't believe how much tension I was under. Felt much like when I left Viet Nam. but that episode in our lives was over and another about to begin. We were unemployed for about 7-months and during that time I got to know Mona's fantastic family, who I fell in love with, learned how to sort potatoes and nearly killed my sister-in-law and I while driving a ten-ton tractor through Salem to deliver to my brother-in-law. I realized I didn't really know how to drive one of these things and can still recall Leslie's frightened expressions as I came to a stop nearly in the middle of a busy intersection. Mona got to meet my family too and she actually worked her way through my father's tough exterior to become friends. Most importantly, I gave my life over to the Lord Jesus during this time and was baptized in my father's boss's hot tub in Phoenix, Arizona.

I had just resigned a security guard position when we got a call from Skagway, Alaska. I hadn't applied there, but Chief Gray had contacted Chief Hester in Skagway and endorsed me for the job of patrolman. Chief Hester called, I looked to Mona and she nodded her head. We were ready to return to Alaska.

I realized later how this was a God appointment. Here I was a brand new Christian walking into a township caught in the grip of Satan. We soon found ourselves up against a witches coven, ghosts of all shapes and sizes, hauntings and a rather large stuff grizzly that liked to move about. Fun times. 

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