SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

KPD & KGB: What Happened?

By Gabriel Duckworth


June 29 2015
Monday PM

I have been a citizen of Ketchikan since 1989. I have been a grant writer at a local non-profit youth treatment center for the past 14 years and have coached a combination of TKD, Boxing, Basketball, Baseball, and Soccer for multiple teams for multiple years. This community had given me employment, opportunity, and a sense of belonging that makes me volunteer about 500 hours a year. I struggle like everyone to make ends meet, to be a good person, and to enrich others lives because that helps me feel enriched as well.

Over the last 5 years, and most recently Friday, things have changed. As I was about to go hand out flyers for our upcoming boxing match, my father, Jack, my old co-worker Kevin Dyer, and I were game planning and getting ready to leave my residence once the babysitter arrived. My young son, Jimmie, was sleeping in the back room. When suddenly Kevin says what is that what the hell, is that a cop? We were startled by a small, almost unintimidating man in my back kitchen threshold, all but in my house. He was dressed like a cop, an outfit you can purchase for about 50 bucks and with an extra grand have the tools and firearm to look legit enough, but this man didn't look like he could pass the physical fitness exam. What made it disturbing, other than the obvious (man in your kitchen with weapons at almost midnight), was that I did not recognize him. Apparently a neighbor had a noise complaint and instead of knocking on HIS front door, or mine for that matter, this officer went full swat mode because there was some noise nearby. When I said" Hey, who are you, what are you doing?", he kind of mumbled and slinked away pointing to a neighbor's residence. That felt extremely weird.

No identification given or stated. Just a strange, tiny man with weapons creeping around in my back yard and doorway, in the dark. I felt fear, deep core fear. Slowly, over time it grew, I started to become nauseous. I called the police dispatch center and was explained that only two police officers were on duty. One being a long-time known citizen whose mother used to make me vegetarian dinners as a teenager. Easily 6' 3" , 250 lbs. The dispatcher would not confirm or deny that the other cop looked well below average height, was there on police business, or really anything. The conversation escalated into an argument, apparently he doesn't know a papa bear's voice, and I was left feeling like I'm a jerk.

For about 2 hours I had real fear, parental fear, that there is some creep sneaking around in my town. So a few hours stuck in my head contemplating all the bad things a fake officer could do to my family, I got in contact with Dispatcher Tyler Rettke who was able to explain to me that the small man was an officer, and that the sergeant on duty would come back to my residence and explain why everything happened like that. I waited . I waited until 3, then 4, then 5am, unable to sleep from the stress, and turning it over and over in my head. Finally, I told my father that I am going down to the station to make a complaint and get some answers. This escalated into an argument, with him being worried it would create problems for the Fight Club. I told him I can't get my head wrapped around this and that it is NOT OK for anyone, especially an employee of our government working under the color of law, to be sneaking around on my property because there is noise nearby at another residence. I was subsequently fired from RYC, my career of over 14 years.

When I spoke with the Sergeant on duty, he explained to me that they are well within their right to do what they were doing. I asked, earnestly if that is the local police policy? Is that an Alaskan Statute? Because it doesn't feel like it should be. After some arguing, he started to understand what he put me through that whole evening, how those hours began to feel like an eternity to me. How his 2-3 years worth of experienced dispatcher does things like it's his first day every day and that the other cop that started this whole fiasco just got confused, made a few errors of judgment, and that he could have alleviated this whole thing sooner but he didn't take the time to come back to my residence to help me understand what had happened. Even though I was told to wait patiently and that he was on his way.

So here I am, an ex-sergeant in the National Guard, a coach of multiple sports, a father of three outstanding boys. In a home I don't feel safe in, in a city that charges exorbitant amounts of money for the only facility that can hold our events, in a borough that after over a decade of paying our fees and training anyone with a passion to compete in boxing or MMA, has expelled us from training at the local recreation center, apparently it's just for yoga and zumba, and a KPD that can creep around my house because, well, they decided that was the plan, cause who wants to ring bright doorbells and knock when you can just be a big man by sneaking around on people's property. I filed for unemployment today. I haven't not had a job since 2 days after my 14th birthday. I have no criminal history or arrest record. I have never gotten assistance from any agency or government before. The disgusting nature of how this has played out has shook me at my base, to my core. I had to leave
the island to breathe, to get my 3.5 year old to his grandmother's and then come back here to finish coaching the baseball tournament. I am packing, and if we can finish this show and the 4th of July booths, I will be leaving this community. I will come back to be with my boys during my time, but will now be locking my doors and windows, something I thought I left behind in Kansas City.

This ridiculous incident, has taken my spirit. It has made me question what I believe in and who is a part of this community. After half a dozen calls and messages to the Police Chief and no response, I am posting this, to say goodbye. I can t do it anymore. I don't want special treatment from the police, or anybody, I just want the people that get paid to serve and protect us, to do that first. I believe many of them do. I have had many officers; sons and daughters on my teams over the years that call me Coach. So to have this happen, to be treated like a 3-time felon, to not be able to feel like this is mine, that is yours, and let's both be respectful is a general understanding of a society, what am I doing with my life?

I'll miss the youth more than anything, I just wish I could have my life and my peace of mind back. I' m just too shook.  I hope I helped more people than I hurt in my time here. Not sure of my future, but who really can be anyhow.

In Struggle,

Gabriel Duckworth
Ketchikan, Alaska


About: "I am a single father, a citizen, and a coach."

Received June 22, 2015 - Published June 29, 2015



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