BARROW - Tighter airport security has reduced the amount of alcohol and drugs being smuggled into the North Slope Borough.
A new distribution center for legally purchased alcohol also contributed to a more than 10 percent drop in the borough's crime rate, said Police Chief Paul Carr.
Well over 90 percent of all criminal activity can be tied directly to either drugs or alcohol, according to police statistics.
Carr said the tighter airport security that followed the Sept. 11 attacks caused a downturn in alcohol-related crime in the North Slope and Barrow.
"One of the major ways bootleggers brought in alcohol is as luggage. Now, with it being screened much more carefully, that isn't happening," Carr said. "Individuals aren't arrested in the Anchorage airport for having liquor in their baggage, but they will call us and let us know if it is there, and we will pick them up on this end when they arrive."
Carr said the number of people willing to risk bringing drugs to the borough also has dropped.
"I think fewer and fewer people are going to be willing to risk that as security continues to tighten at airports," he said.
Major felonies such as murder, rape and armed robbery are down about 11 percent in the North Slope in 2001 compared to 2000. This tops a national trend of a drop of about 5 percent.
Alcohol-related misdemeanor crimes have decreased between 15 and 20 percent, according to borough statistics. Fourth-degree assault, commonly a domestic violence charge, showed up as 239 criminal activities in 2001, compared to 284 calls in 2000.
There were 81 driving while intoxicated arrests in 2001 compared to 93 in 2000. Arrests for importing alcohol remained about the same - 22 in 2001 and 21 the year before.
Barrow does not allow liquor to be consumed in public places such as bars or restaurants and there are no liquor stores. Liquor can be ordered from stores in Fairbanks and Anchorage and shipped to Barrow for consumption in the home. All of the other villages in the North Slope Borough are dry, which means any importation or consumption of alcohol is illegal.
In September 2000 Barrow enacted an ordinance to control the importation and bootlegging of alcohol by setting up a distribution center. The ordinance required that anyone importing liquor has a permit and limited the amount of liquor, wine, and beer each individual could import.