A Wrangell Police vehicle, 2021.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

Crime in Wrangell fell in 2020, but police chief Tom Radke says that it’s not immediately clear why. 

“Our population is down, and I think with COVID people kind of hunkered down. They’re not as mobile as they once were. I think there’s a lot of different factors. There’s just not one,” Radke said in an interview earlier this month.

According to annual statistics released by the police department, personal and property crimes, traffic violations and even animal complaints were among the areas with lower reported incidents compared with 2019. 

But that doesn’t mean that city police officers weren’t writing tickets. There were one and a half times more city offenses in 2020 than the previous year, according to the department’s statistics: namely littering and nuisance fireworks. 

“You can only ‘Oooo,’ and ‘Ahhhh,’ so long. I think fireworks have always kind of been that love hate relationship,” Radke said about the uptick in violations. “But I think for the most part here [in Wrangell], it’s been pretty slow. And it’s a testament to the people. They believe in rules and regulations. I’m not saying we don’t have some that skirt them, but I think for the most part, people do a good job.”

In 2020, Wrangell Police Department assisted other police agencies at double the average reported rate of the last decade. Radke explained that the apparently huge increase might just be the department keeping better records of when they help out other police departments. 

The department’s reporting shows three sexual assaults in 2020, and about 25 other minor assault charges. Burglary and charges of malicious mischief were also up slightly compared to previous years, and vehicle thefts increased compared to 2019, but remained lower than the five-year average. 

A rundown of Wrangell’s police stats since 2011 can be found by clicking here. Please note: KSTK does not have statistics for 2013 or 2014.

Get in touch with KSTK at news@kstk.org or (907) 874-2345.