Attack on new Angoon public safety officer doesn't change his view of Alaska

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Angoon finally has a village public safety officer, and the former Floridian says that, with one exception, everyone has made him feel at home in his first two weeks.

Sunday night state troopers listed Officer Mark Ray as an assault victim, after he responded to a disturbance in the town on the southwest corner of Admiralty Island.

He blamed alcohol. By law, Angoon is supposed to be alcohol-free.

"There are a lot of good people here," Ray said. "And (alcohol) is ruining a lot of people's lives."

Angoon had been without a permanent law enforcement presence since February, when the community lost its only police officer. Juneau-based state troopers became the primary peace officers.

Ray said he has wanted to move to Alaska for a long time. After surviving hurricanes Gene and Irene in Florida, he welcomed the chance for the remote VPSO position.

VPSOs can only act as primary investigators in misdemeanor cases, Capt. John Glick, who oversees the program, said from Anchorage in July. In felony domestic violence cases, they can get the victim to a safe place.

Ray, who has worked as a peace officer in Florida since the 1980s, arrived in Angoon to fill the position about two weeks ago.

Ray was responding to a disturbance at about 10 p.m. Sunday when he was punched several times by a man he found "extremely intoxicated and threatening family members," according to the troopers' daily news release.

The release alleged that he was punched several times by Calvin Washington, 26, who pleaded no contest Monday in Angoon District Court to disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fourth-degree assault on a peace officer. Troopers reported that Washington was taken to Juneau to serve a 70-day sentence at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Trooper Sgt. Dave Tracy in Juneau said said there was no question of Ray's authority during the incident. Ray said he was "just bruised." He has dealt with unexpected situations as an officer before, but Sunday was the first time he didn't have any backup, he said. "I'm used to the cavalry coming."

Ray said he went to the police academy for the Charlotte, N.C., department in 1988 and later transferred to Florida, where he worked for the Palm Beach County sheriff's office for 10 years, and later the Jupiter, Fla., police in the same area.

In Angoon, Irene isn't a hurricane, but the volunteer dispatcher, Irene Paul. He called her "a godsend."

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