Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Ordinance aims to keep peace at boat harbor

Committee’s rewrites have been two years in making

 


As Haines Borough harbormaster for more than a year, Ed Barrett said he’s never been physically hurt during a dispute, but he has “heard some very colorful things.”

The boat harbor advisory committee over the past two years has fleshed out the details of a 22-page ordinance to clarify governance of borough port and harbor facilities. One component of the ordiance that had notable discussion at Tuesday’s borough government affairs and services committee meeting is new wording that would give Barrett more authority, and more protection.

The committee discussed attorney Brooks Chandler’s edits to the ordinance, scheduled for a first public hearing at the assembly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

But a Jan. 6 memo from police chief Gary Lowe took issue with the document’s designation of the harbormaster as a “peace officer.”

“While there are criminal charges that can be filed for disobeying a peace officer and there are greater penalties for people that assault a peace officer, this term is not one that you can pick and choose which sections of code apply to it and which sections of code don’t apply,” he wrote.

Lowe wrote he “could continue for several pages with the legal requirements placed on peace officers by local and state code,” and he advised borough manager Mark Earnest to apply the term “peace officer” only to sworn police officers.

Borough code states a peace officer “is synonymous with police officer” and must meet Alaska Police Standards Council certification within a year, Lowe wrote.

“I don’t think I really want to go to the academy so I can write parking tickets,” Barrett said. “If there is some other way to deal with this issue, I am totally open to that.”

Barrett said he has not issued citations as harbormaster in Haines.

“Meter tenders are peace officers, people who deal with animals are peace officers, and in my view (the ordinance) was not (about) becoming a police officer or a security individual, but it gave a person the authority to write citations, which I thought was the intent of the code, especially in parking,” he said.

Assembly member Joanne Waterman suggested for Barrett, Earnest and Lowe to meet and discuss the peace officer provision before the ordinance is up for adoption.

“If we just word it so that the harbormaster has the ability to write citations, and then has the protection as if he was a peace officer, that’s what we were after,” said Bill Rostad of the harbor advisory committee.

Earnest said some borough employees are more exposed to public disapproval.

“We’ve had equipment operators that have been threatened with shovels just recently,” he said. “We’re out there dealing with the public, and sometimes the public isn’t very happy, and they let their expressions be known, but I think our first and highest responsibility is to protect the public and protect our employees.”