Year in Review 2020: Public Safety

A look at some of the year’s biggest stories about public safety, court cases, and SAFE, one of Bristol Bay’s social service providers.

Like many other sectors, the pandemic shaped public safety in Bristol Bay this year.

Due to health concerns, jury trials in Alaska have been delayed until 2021. That changed the timeline for many trials.

Andrew Straley’s trial was initially scheduled to continue last March, but it was further delayed until March 2021. The Dillingham man was arrested in 2018 for allegedly attempting to bring $55,200 worth of methamphetamine to Dillingham. He was charged with possession with intention to distribute.

Before courts closed, Brian Vane Clark was found not guilty and acquitted on all charges after a five year legal battle over the 2015 murder of Ella Olsen.

Over the years, text messages, photos, 911 call recordings, and text messages sent by Olsen had been corrupted or gone missing since the investigation. When evidence is lost in an investigation, missing evidence is then assumed to benefit the defendant.

The Bristol Bay Bud Company experienced its first break in this September.

Heather Allen, one of the four owners of the marijuana dispensary, said she had faith in her security system.

“We’ll find out who broke into the pot store and caused a big ‘ole hullabaloo,” she said.

An 18-year-old man and a 13-year-old child were charged later that week, both admitting to the burglary. All stolen items were also recovered.

In the Bristol Bay Borough, police arrested Ryan John Roehl in October. Roehl had sixteen charges against him, including burglary of various fishing vessels, vehicle theft, and was in possession of both methamphetamine and heroin.

People in Bristol Bay are also working on innovative ways to help those struggling to stay safe. KDLG sat down with SAFE’s Gregg Marxmiller at the beginning of the year to talk about how to best support the people around victims of domestic violence.

“In advocacy we take everything [people who come to us] say at its face value, like that’s the truth,” Marxmiller said. “We’re there to listen to the truth from that person. We’re not there to judge, we’re not trying to figure out the answers here. We’re there to support somebody. If you keep that in mind, like, you’re there to support.”

Marxmiller added that one of the best ways to support victims of domestic violence is to remember that the victims are not at fault.

“I think there’s a lot of discussion about responsibilities of people, and they say, ‘Well this happened to me,’ or ‘This person did that,’” he explained. “It’s something we learn as children as well: ‘This person did that, so I did this.’ That doesn’t absolve you of your responsibilities for what you did.”

SAFE provides services including safety planning, shelter, protective orders, advocacy and crisis response. More services can be found on their website or you can call them at (907) 842-2320.

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