Juneau Police end ‘Year of Kindness’



Last year, the Juneau Police Department launched the “Year of Kindness” initiative to encourage people to commit acts of kindness on a daily basis. The experiment wrapped up with a community party on New Year’s Eve with food, music, and Native dancing.

The Juneau crime rate didn’t drop in 2017, kindness notwithstanding.

This year, the police are instituting a new program: Officers will be wearing body cameras.

The Year of Kindness challenge followed a period when crime had skyrocketed in Juneau. In 2016, there had been a 28 percent jump in property crime. Burglary was up 60 percent.

Crime statistics for 2017 will be released later this month, but in the meantime, Juneau is also coping with a shortage of police officers and an explosion of homelessness and drug abuse.

Five sworn officers of JPD have the body cameras already, which attach magnetically to their uniforms. All officers will be wearing them before the end of the year, according to Police Chief Ed Mercer.

The last Juneau Police Chief, Bryce Johnson, told the Chamber of Commerce in July that property crimes were rising and that SB 91 was to blame for a lot of the problem. SB 91 is the criminal justice reform bill that is widely blamed for the increase in burglaries and thefts.

“If it’s not bolted down or locked up, someone is going to steal it,” he said.