Ask a Dispatcher
Q. Regarding the accident on the Mendenhall River Bridge Wednesday night, why did the officers allow everyone to drive all the way up to the accident scene only to be turned around and sent back towards Loop Road when it would have made more sense to be detoured at Mint Way?
Dear Juneau Resident,
The reason accident scenes are sometimes secured near the edge of what needs to be protected usually comes down to staffing and priorities. When there is a serious accident all of the two or three JPD officers assigned to that area quickly get busy with facilitating emergency medical care (1st priority). As EMTs arrive the officers turn their attention to collecting evidence in the form of securing vehicles, witness statements, taking pictures and keeping people from driving through the scene (2nd priority). This is usually enough to keep three officers busy.
The next priority is traffic flow (3rd on the list). Turning people away at the scene takes one officer or Juneau Citizen's Patrol volunteer on each side of the scene. Setting up a detour further out takes a person at that point and one at the edge of the scene because if the detour is some distance away there will be access points where drivers will enter the road between the detour and the scene. Citizen volunteers are not always available to help with detours.
During the specific incident you mentioned there was an attempt to bring officers from the downtown area but those officers were involved in serious calls and not immediately available.
JPD apologizes for the inconvenience to drivers but medical needs and investigative priorities have to be addressed prior to convenience issues being considered.