New police radios, the scanning of crime reports, a full-time evidence custodian, and a reduction in sex assault cases.
Nome Police Chief Mike Heintzelman told the commission in April that the in-car police radios are “antiquated,” and that purchasing new ones is a matter of protecting the public and his officers. He reiterated that during the June 5 meeting.
“(When) someone calls in, they want an officer there,” Heintzelman said. “The officer better have communication back and forth with the folks in dispatch to provide Intel to the officer, to tell them what’s going on, where to go, what a person is saying. You want a reliable radio system. That’s paramount for the safety of the community.”
Evidence Custodian Paul Kosto is also seeing his position moved to full time, with an emphasis on working inside the evidence room to log seized items.
“The evidence custodian will be effectively full time as of July 1, and that will allow him to do a lot of work that needs to be done in the evidence room, which is barcoding all the evidence, the thousands of pieces of evidence that are there,” Heintzelman said.
Kosto will also be responsible for logging and scanning police reports dating back nearly two decades. Most will then be destroyed, though some never will, according to Heintzelman.
“It’s just oceans and oceans of old reports, dating back to 2005,” Heintzelman said. “All those reports will be scanned. Having a full-time position will help to do that. Those reports will then be destroyed. Reports involving serious felonies, sexual assaults, they never get destroyed. They are always maintained.”
Nome Deputy Chief Robert Pruckner updated the commission on the work being accomplished on current investigations and criminal referrals for sexual assault cases in the city.
“We have 16 reported right now,” Pruckner said. “Eight are still being worked, and eight have been submitted, and that’s less than last year, much less.”
The police department is still working toward accreditation, according to Heintzelman. To achieve the goal, the department is going through a series of changes to its policy manual, the way that evidence is stored and recorded, and includes updates to police video cameras in vehicles and the department’s emergency radio systems.
Nome Police Department has never been an accredited police agency, but Heintzelman said it should be in about two years.
Image at top: A Nome Police Department vehicle. Matthew F. Smith/KNOM