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Alaska Police Force Fighting to Carry Guns
By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press Writer

HOOPER BAY, Alaska - When this town's seven police officers go on patrol, they never reach for their guns. That's because Hooper Bay is the only known municipality in the United States whose police officers are forbidden to carry firearms.

Town leaders say they fear guns will just make the village more dangerous, even in the hands of cops. Police say town leaders are being unreasonable and insist guns can make the town safer.

"Unpredictable, unexpected things don't happen here often, but they do happen," said Police Chief James Hoelscher, 27, who has lived in Hooper Bay since he was 13. "A little Yupik Eskimo village is not immune to what can happen in Anchorage or Los Angeles or anywhere else."

Village leaders are unconvinced.

Elmer Simon, tribal government administrator, said he would support properly trained officers using guns _ but only in emergency situations. Otherwise, he said, they should keep them locked up.

"A lot of young people wouldn't hesitate _ especially if they're under the influence of alcohol _ to grab a handgun from the officers and use it against them," Simon said. "Not that we're against handguns. But accidents do happen."

Hooper Bay is an Eskimo village of 1,100 on the windblown Bering Sea coast, about 515 miles west of Anchorage. It is among the last communities in Alaska without running water or a sewage system.

The village has existed for more than a century, incorporating as a city in 1966. It has steadily grown in recent years despite high unemployment and few job opportunities. Commercial fishing and subsistence fishing and hunting are the primary means of support. Well over a third of the population is unemployed and receiving public assistance.

And no one can remember a time when police carried guns.

Both The Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police said they were unaware of any other organized municipality in the nation whose officers don't carry guns.

"We're not a big enough village to justify carrying guns," said City Administrator Raphael Murran.

The chief said there's good reason for his officers to carry firearms. In fact, he keeps his own gun locked up at the station and, policy or not, he has taken it on a few potentially risky calls. It's not always possible to wait for armed help from state troopers in Bethel, 150 miles away, he said.

"I'd rather be fired than killed," said the married father of four. "I have a family to go home to."

Police regularly deal with such potential flashpoints as domestic violence and liquor-fueled assaults in Hooper Bay, which bans the sale or importation of alcohol. In June, police logged 104 alcohol-related calls and seven domestic violence reports. They made 33 criminal arrests on charges including assault, harassment, eluding police and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Then there was the choking incident.

In December 2001, police answering an assault call ran into a drunk and combative man who lunged at an officer, choking him until the officer blacked out, according to court documents. The officer recovered, and the man served time in jail after pleading no-contest to assaulting an officer.

Hoelscher thinks the assault might not have occurred if the officer had been wearing a sidearm, even if it was never drawn.

"It's hard to guess what would have happened if the officer was armed," Hoelscher said. "But if people know you're armed, they might think a little harder."

Or react more aggressively, opponents say.

"Knowing an officer is armed may amplify the situation," said Simon, the tribal administrator. "All areas have to be considered. It's a serious issue."
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160 Posts
Can you believe this shit?? We dont want our officers carrying guns...they dont need them. Are you kidding?? They answered 107 alcohol related calls in June alone, and 7 domestic calls. We all know too well that any one of those could have turned into a deadly situation. "No not yet, please dont kill me with your gun, or machete, or knife, or bat...Can we wait for armed state troopers to arrive from 150 miles away, then we can fight back?" That is the most ridiculous thing Ive ever heard.

An officer is choked until he is unconscious, and they cant carry guns?? Of course they dont need them, its only a small village...

Alot of young people wouldnt hesitate to take guns from officers and use them against them??--Alot of criminals wouldnt hesitate to use their own gun and kill innocent "Tribal Leaders" who dont let their own cops carry guns!

These statements sound like ones from ignorant people who have never left the confines of this village.

I think its bad enough that many campus cops cant carry guns, but this takes the cake...Good luck to those guys

157 Posts
csauce30 said:
These statements sound like ones from ignorant people who have never left the confines of this village.

I think its bad enough that many campus cops cant carry guns, but this takes the cake.
Sauce, it's all the same, just think of a campus as a village. All police should be armed.

Zombie Hunter
4,815 Posts
No wonder why the indians lost the plains wars; these guys were on their tribal council! :D However, in all seriousness I firmly believe all officers, including campus police should be armed. I was astounded when a local campus police brought in a drunk to the barracks to be breath tested earlier this year and the officer was not carrying a gun. I asked him if they make m/v stops on campus on a routine basis, he replied that they do. I told him that he's a braver man than I, I would never, repeat never, stop a car without a loaded gun! "There is no such thing as a routine traffic stop."

Oh cmon that far into Alaska they probably still use wooden spoons, and running water whats that.

Never mind the people out there what about the dam wildlife. I'd be more worried about what the local wildlife could do to me than some drunken Eskimo, :lol: .

But more to the point I agree, they should be packin a heater :lol: , a large caliber at that just in case they need to shoot diner. :lol:

Retired Fed, Active Special
8,878 Posts

The Final Frontier................
These are the adventures of the Hooper Bay Police Force. Their continuing mission, to seek out new crimes and uncivil people. to boldly go unarmed where no cop has gone before (music)

Well you get the picture.

It is REALLY a stupid situation.
Just to let you know, the Alaska State troopers have special officers under their command. They are known as VSO's (Village Safety Officers) They are Formal academy trained for some L.E. and Firefighting tasks. They are not armed either!

Chapter 90 Enforcer
3,299 Posts
An unarmed municipal Police Dept. is just plain suicide!! The Chief says he owns a gun... how many other "Villagers" own guns? That's great, the residents can have guns but not the Police?!?! Boy, why didn't we think of that?

Subscribing Member
312 Posts
Gil said:
Alaska Police Force Fighting to Carry Guns
"A lot of young people wouldn't hesitate _ especially if they're under the influence of alcohol _ to grab a handgun from the officers and use it against them," Simon said. "Not that we're against handguns. But accidents do happen."

Three words - Weapon retention training.

Anybody else notice that the Chief is only 27 years old?

89 Posts
Well, I guess it's true....the colleges aren't the only lands of idiots. I'm sure that there arent too many residents in that community that don't own and use firearms given the area up there.
I think MPD61 is on to something with those safety officers, maybe their agency came from those guys or previously they worked as special unarmed village safety officers etc and the village administrators are anti-gun????

31 Posts
Well, when you have a town of 1, many qualified people would be around to be police chiefs or would want to be? Or they may have the problem of too may chiefs and not enough Indians (or eskimo's as the case may be).
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