As a matter of policy, the Chilkat Valley News does not publish allegations from anonymous sources. People accused of wrongdoing, we believe, deserve – at the very least – to know who is making accusations against them.
We’re making an exception to the policy this week in our story of the complaint against Haines Borough Police Chief Gary Lowe. The complaint is from a police department employee, and the substance of it was corroborated this week by four of the department’s eight other employees and one former employee.
We’ve spoken to employees and we believe they are legitimately worried about their jobs and potential fallout from speaking on the record. Considering the nature of the complaint, we believe their fears may be justified. That’s why we have allowed them to give us information anonymously.
In situations like this one involving allegations against a public employee, we would typically “allow the process to run its course” and to print information as we receive it from borough officials responsible for supervising the employee in question. We’re stepping outside that practice and printing the specifics of the complaint’s allegations now for several reasons, including:
1) The allegations are serious, and may be criminal, and concern an individual who carries a gun and supervises nine employees and a $1 million budget.
2) Good morale and mutual support are at the core of an effective police department. Until this matter is resolved, our department is handicapped. While its chief is on leave, it’s also short-handed. Those issues add stress and danger to daily police work, increasing the borough’s liability in the event a police call goes awry. That’s an untenable situation.
3) This matter has cast a cloud over Lowe and the entire department. We believe that bringing the facts of it to light, and resolving it, will restore the public’s trust in the department.
4) Society justifiably expects police – whose jobs including wielding the power of life and death – to behave in a manner that’s above reproach. Questionable behavior that may be overlooked in other workplaces cannot be allowed by public officials who carry guns and badges.
5) Haines Borough Assembly and management have not demonstrated that they can address this complaint squarely and resolve it. The complaint has been in their court since Feb. 19 and little progress has been made toward a resolution. The borough has a long to-do list and the longer this issue drags out, the more time and effort are robbed from vital issues like balancing the budget, resolving property assessment complaints, developing the local economy and myriad others.
We hope that by publishing this information, a public discussion of this matter will accelerate its resolution, so our police department can turn its full attention to law enforcement and Haines Borough officials and assembly members can move on to its other, pressing business.