Visualize yourself sitting comfortably in your home just before noon on a Wednesday. You have a family member as a guest. Since you’re a Christian conservative, maybe Martha McCallum of FOX is on the TV. An Alaska State Trooper knocks at the door, you answer, and the Trooper tells you he’s at your home for a “welfare check.”
Most Alaskans don’t harbor any animosity towards the cops and unless you had a pile of blow on the dining table, you’d invite the officer in and converse with him/her. You don’t appear to be in danger or a resident of crazy town, so the officer thanks you for your time and goes on his/her way. You have some harsh words with the family member who was obviously responsible for the “welfare check.”
A few hours later, you now have two family members in the house and there is a knock at the door. Now there are two Troopers and one of your family members asserts that s/he has a court order to have you detained and sent for psychiatric evaluation. It is an open question whether the alleged court order was ever produced or even existed, but the Troopers accepted the authority of such an order and without resistance, and you led away in custody to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
You endure the indignity of having your personal possessions confiscated and being stripped of your clothing and dressed in a hospital gown. A psychotropic drug is administered to you. You are detained for three days.
Then the whole system says, “never mind.”
Then it gets really interesting. The Troopers try to verify the alleged court order and the Court System refuses, citing confidentiality, which is BS because telling another law enforcement agency something isn’t a public disclosure. Then, the Court System issues a statement to the media saying it never issued such an order. Courts couldn’t tell the Department of Public Safety, but it could tell some reporter at KTUU.
First, something went badly wrong here. I spent all day on the phone with my grizzled old buddies from my days of dealing with the Department of Public Safety. None of us could think of a circumstance in which a civilian would have a court order that could result in someone being placed in custody. Those sorts of orders go from the hand of an officer of the court to the hand of an officer of the law. We don’t even know for sure that the Troopers ever actually saw the alleged court order.
Were I still wearing one of my old hats, I’d have a piece of those two Troopers; I wouldn’t fire them, but I’d set their retirement date back awhile. This isn’t something that a Trooper would do every day so they might not know the subtleties of it.
There is something going on here that we don’t know. The “tell” for me is that the Court System went to the media rather than to the DPS to reveal that there was no warrant. This sort of thing can happen at fairly low levels in government. Some Administrative Something or Another could have decided that h/she didn’t like a school principal coming out as an activist Christian.
I’m thinking, however, that some of the family members share those sorts of political views and used their connections in the Court System to mau-mau their relative.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.