April 5, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 14

Chief warns:

Heroin use is up; expect increase in property crimes

Police Chief Jim Agner warned the Petersburg Rotary Club members on Wednesday that a jump in heroin use in town is likely to cause property crimes to increase.

“We have a heroin problem in town and it’s epidemic in Alaska,” Agner said.

He estimated that Petersburg is consuming as much as $750,000 a year of heroin.

“With that level of heroin use, we’re going to have a huge increase in property crimes. The money has to come from somewhere. If you have a $300 a day habit, you’ve gotta come up with $300 a day,” the Chief stated.

He added that home invasions currently happen to people involved in the drug culture. They don’t want the police involved and they attack each other without police knowledge.

In the most recent case, Agner said, the home invasion did not happen to someone involved in the drug culture.

“He was just an innocent person just going about life, Agner said.

“They kicked the door in and beat this person with a baseball bat as close to needing hospitalization level. They (attackers) believed someone had simply been disrespectful,” Agner explained.

When asked what could be done by citizens to protect themselves, there was agreement that people need to lock the doors of their homes, and their cars as well.

“This town is extremely trusting,” Rotarian Rick Braun noted. Sometimes people go on vacation and leave their homes unlocked.

Agner told the club gathering that his officers are very busy and have 7 felony cases in progress and are very near to bringing charges in 5 other cases. He said the police are on pace to handle 180 to 200 cases this year and are expecting to handle upwards of 45 felony cases. In 2011 PPD’s case-load was about 137 cases with 24 of them involving felony charges.

“People don’t realize the effort we put forth,” the Chief said.

“Just two weeks ago we took another $10,000 of heroin off the street. The staff worked 40 hours plus another 110 hours of overtime and then another 40-45 hours of time was volunteered — they worked for free.

“I have a staff of very dedicated employees,” Agner concluded.

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