[EXCLUSIVE] Interview With Ketchikan Drug Investigator - P.O.W. Report

Monday, March 4, 2019

[EXCLUSIVE] Interview With Ketchikan Drug Investigator


POW Report was able to send in some questions and have them answered by Larry Dur'an who is Ketchikan's only State Trooper Drug Investigator. We would also like to thank him for taking the time to respond and for all the work he does! If You have any tips regarding drug crime or trafficking, Larry encourages you to contact him: 

(907) 225-5118 (dispatch)
(907) 228-4020 (office)
(907) 254-0158 (cell)
(907) 247-7338 (fax)
larry.duran@alaska.gov

Are you the only investigator in Ketchikan?


I am the only drug investigator for AST in Ketchikan. Ketchikan Police Department also has an investigations unit that conducts drug investigations.

What does your job entail and what other areas do you cover?


I am a drug investigator, drug detection canine handler, and drug detection canine instructor for the Alaska State Troopers.

Additionally, do you see a need for more law enforcement and investigators?


Yes. The Ketchikan area has enough steady drug enforcement work for a fully staffed drug enforcement office.


When the Federal government was shutdown did that affect investigations and enforcement operations in the state?


The Alaska State Troopers and municipal law enforcement agencies are not federal employees. While I am likely not aware of the full scope of the partial federal government shutdown and is affects upon drug enforcement in Alaska (e.g., civilian positions that support federal law enforcement, civilian federal court employees, or federal civilian employees with the US Attorney’s Office or the US Public Defenders Office), it is my understanding that federal law enforcement officers have continued to work throughout the partial government shutdown to carryout drug enforcement investigations.

When SB 91 went into law, there seems to have been a change in criminal law and investigations. Is this true? Most Alaskans don't know anything about SB 91, what did the bill change? Are there any positives? Any negatives?


I will defer on expressing my opinions regarding the positive and negative results of the SB 91 and the subsequent changes to it via SB 54. What I can say, is that it has made drug enforcement much more difficult in Alaska. There is an abundance of information online about both senate bills and the changes both brought about. I would encourage you to provide your readers the [following link] to the Alaska Department of Law website where they address frequently asked questions about both SB 91 and SB 95.



What are some things that regular citizens should know when being approached by law enforcement/investigators or some common misconceptions that people have?



While I cannot provide any form of legal advice regarding citizen interactions with law enforcement, I can provide some general recommendations to ensure the interaction is safe, efficient, and as positive as it can be given the various circumstances. While there are many articles written on this subject, the [following is a link] to one that touches on this subject and from it you can search that website for others like it.

The writer of the article has many helpful things to say to include this: “There are three things the public needs to know about contacts with police. 1. Be courteous. 2. Be cooperative. 3. Be compliant.” I believe these three things will go a long ways to ensure that the outcome is as positive as it can be given the circumstances surrounding the contact.


How can we organize and help? I know Ketchikan just started a Neighborhood Watch. Better yet, what should a citizen do if they have a tip regarding illicit drug behavior they may have seen, witnessed, or heard about?


Let me take up the second question. Our goal is to seize the drugs before they make it into the communities. Once the drugs have reached the street, it is more difficult and less efficient to attempt to seize them. While any reliable information is better than none, the most valuable information for law enforcement is timely, reliable, detailed, first-hand information. Even if someone is unsure of the validity of the drug information they have learned, law enforcement would appreciate being made of aware of the information. Information regarding who is smuggling drugs into the community and how, who is selling drugs and what type of drug, and where they are selling drugs are some of the basic facts that law enforcement would like to know.

If anyone wishes to contact me and remain anonymous the one important thing they need to know is to not provide me with their name. Legally speaking, there is a difference between an anonymous tip where I do not know the identity of the person providing the tip and a person who wishes to remain anonymous. Defense attorneys for various reasons are prone to file legal motions to compel law enforcement to reveal the identity of persons who wish to remain anonymous if law enforcement has relied upon that information in a criminal investigation. While there are steps that law enforcement and prosecutors can take to protect the identity of persons providing information, there is always the possibility that a judge may compel law enforcement to reveal your identity to the defense and ultimately the defendant. Many find this intimidating for a variety of reasons, which I understand. That being said, the most valuable information for law enforcement is information that we can associate with a specific person—even if in reports and court documents we refer to the person by some means other than their real name (e.g., CS1). What makes associating information with a specific person so valuable is that it gives law enforcement and the courts a means to evaluate the credibility of the person providing the information and ultimately the reliability of the information.

Several readers have been frustrated and asked the following questions, why do the same well know perps keep committing the same drug crimes and get away with it? Specifically, arrests ARE happening however there is a perception that light sentences are handed out and they are back on the streets doing the same thing. Is this perception real or does this go back to SB 91?


SB-91 lessened the severity of most drug offenses, reduced bail amounts, and altered the sentencing guidelines for various drug crimes with the intent that less people would be incarcerated for drug crimes. One consequence of this is that many drug cases are being declined for prosecution because the amount of resources involved to prosecute the case is not proportional with the results.

Finally, the youth is the future are there efforts made (what can we do) to help the youth understand the repercussions of drugs and try and lower the usage in our communities?


This is a great and complicated question. My best advice is to look for ways to establish honest and open communication with the youth in the community about these issues. Drug awareness education is very important and should not be downplayed, but at the same time I am aware that many people (both youth and adults) knowingly engage in various high risk activities fully aware of the potential consequences. They just naively and arrogantly believe they are somehow immune to the risks. Finding a way to speak to that issue would go a long way to effectively communicate about this subject. Ideally, the youth would have role models at home that would provide moral guidance and a sense of direction to their children, but sadly I am fully aware of how many parents selfishly prioritize substance abuse over the welfare of their children. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is a poignant reminder that we can’t be content to be mere spectators in our communities. Community members need to find thoughtful ways to stay engaged with their neighbors to include the youth of the community.


POW Report: I feel that a lot of this frustration on the rise in crime and drugs doesn't actually address the root cause, which is FAMILY. More kids then ever are raised in single parent homes which, as statistics show us, is the number 1 determinant for whether or not someone will commit a crime in the future. It's a systemic societal issue and no amount of officers or investigators will be able to solve anything if the family at home isn't addressed first. As it stands, I don't know if there is any way to solve this root problem.

Larry:

I fully agree. One of the recurrent themes I hear from young people I arrest from POW is that they got into substance abuse out of sense of boredom. Many have told me that there is nothing to do on POW. While I realize this is not true and that there is an abundance of outdoor activities, there may not be other positive outlets for their boredom such as a rec center. My inclination would be to get these kids involved in activities and eventually jobs earning money. It would be great if these young people became vocational oriented early on so that they had some goals and ambitions that would motivate them to make good choices.


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