Anchorage, like many other big cities nationwide, has created a whole new field of revenue generation. Traditionally we all just sucked it up that there would be nice parts of town, bad parts of town, and a few parts of town that were truly horrendous. The folks up in the mountain chalets of Hillside or Rabbit Creek would comfortably look down upon the rest of us, knowing and accepting the fact that their hard earned property taxes would go to police responses elsewhere. And, despite a bit of angst over State Trooper versus Anchorage Police response areas, were mostly OK with that.
But with ever increasing budget needs, the seemingly ever decreasing available funds, municipalities like Anchorage are always seeking additional sources of revenue. Heavily taxed home owners are getting sick and tired of having to foot t he bill for that ever increasing police budget. Anchorage, like most cities, also often has problems with a few gregarious hot spots of crime and infamy. Those truly notorious places that seem to warrant their very own police substation. Crack houses, hotels of ill repute, fighting in-laws, you name it. So, in order to kill two birds with stone, Anchorage has adopted Excessive Police Response regulations.
Excessive Police Response regulations allow municipalities and other jurisdictions to set limits upon how many times police may respond to a certain address, and charge fees for each response beyond that number. Seems simple enough. But this does come with questions: what happens in medical emergencies? how about the ol’ man beatin’ his ol’ lady around every Saturday night? How about child abuse calls? Will the number of responses allowed prevent folks from calling when they really need help?
The State of Alaska has statutes that outline what municipalities and others may or may not do in these situations. Fortunately the statutes are pretty specific, and cover everything from the amount allowed per call, notice to the property owner that polices responses are happening, and certain exemptions that do not count toward the excessive number.
What does this mean for you? Well, hopefully nothing. But are you a property owner? Are you a slum lord extraordinaire owning several blocks of housing in the seedier parts of town? Perhaps you have just one problem tenant that enjoys a, shall we say, second income from nocturnal recreational pharmaceutical sales? Anchorage’s Excessive Police Response regulations place the burden not just on the resident of the property being responded to, but to the property owner as well. Considering who is likely to actually have money to pay, I think we all know who it is the Muni would be coming after.
The Excessive Police Response statutes and regulations can be complicated for those not used to reading reg-speak. What does the State require of municipalities? Do the Muni’s regulations follow the requirements of the enabling state statutes. When confronted with notices of pending fines one should look carefully to ensure the statutes and regulations are being followed correctly. But don’t waste time, failure to follow through on any required administrative hearings may waive any claim you have against the Muni. Study the regulations yourself, or call someone who already knows how they work. As in anything, know the law and know your rights.