Walker presents plan to address increased crime in Alaska

  • By Dan Joling
  • Monday, October 30, 2017 10:11pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker unveiled a plan Monday to address a rise in the state’s crime rate and said a stable economic process would help.

People training to put their lives on the line in state jobs connected to fighting crime should be assured they will not be repeatedly targeted for layoff notices every May during state budget deliberations, Walker said.

“Alaska needs fiscal certainty,” the governor said at a news conference in Juneau. “They need to know now and into the future they’re not going to have another series of pink slips upon pink slips upon pink slips.”

Walker, accompanied by a handful of commissioners, said his public safety plan will tackle the state’s rise in crime by addressing recidivism rates, improving the efficiency of state agencies and expanding mental health treatment opportunities.

A rise in crime in the past two years coincided with an increase in the use of opioid drugs, cuts to public safety resources and an economic downturn, said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. The approach must address underlying causes, she said.

Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan said his department will address areas where personnel can by more effective and efficient. The state now spends $2 million annually transporting prisoners from jails to courthouses.

“Installing more telecommunications resources, especially in rural areas, and using video conferencing when it’s appropriate could save not only the money, but it can free up our officers,” he said.

The department’s biggest challenge, he said, is finding men and women to fill vacancies. He said 43 Alaska State Trooper positions are open out of a 285-trooper authorized force, as well as 34 of 78 village public safety officer positions.

He agreed with Walker that the state’s unstable budget process is a factor in attracting qualified employees.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams said his agency’s pretrial enforcement division, with the responsibility of making sure defendants attend court appearances, will launch in January.

The state for 20 years has had a serious recidivism problem, with two of three Alaskans who get out of prison returning within three years. The department will make a renewed effort for constructive, productive activities within prison walls, he said.

The department also will try to expand job opportunities for Alaskans leaving prison. Williams said fish processors, who have had problems filling positions, might find a solution from former inmates.

“Someone getting out has to have a job and a place to live,” he said.

Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson said improved access to mental health and substance abuse treatment is essential to the plan to improve public safety.

More in News

A map shows the location of a safety corridor project along the Sterling Highway between Sterling and Soldotna. (Photo courtesy of DOT&PF)
Sterling highway project to have limited environmental impact, assessment finds

The stretch highway to be improved reaches from Fred Meyer in Soldotna to the bridge over Moose River in Sterling

Donated blood is prepared for storage and eventual transport at the Blood Bank of Alaska’s Juneau location. There is a statewide shortage of donated blood. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘National blood crisis’ presents challenges in Alaska

Donation centers contend with COVID, weather and other disruptions as they work to stock hospitals.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters alongside, from left, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., during a press conference regarding the Democratic party’s shift to focus on voting rights at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
Big voting bill faces defeat as 2 Dems won’t stop filibuster

This is the fifth time the Senate will try to pass voting legislation this Congress

Members of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce listen to a briefing by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan during a joint luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Sullivan reports in from D.C.

The senator touched on infrastructure, voting rights, defense spending and the pandemic

The Alaska State Capitol building seen on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 in Juneau, Alaska. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
State lawmakers face proposed salary hike, allowance limits

A commission voted 3-1 to raise the base salary from $50,400 a year to $64,000

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
House Speaker Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, gave a stern warning about decorum to members of the Alaska House of Representatives on the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022. Last year the Legislature was so divided it took a full regular session and four special sessions before work was completed.
1st day of session brings familiar tensions to Legislature

The session opened with calls for bipartisanship, but tensions were evident

Image via Alaska Board of Fisheries
Statewide shellfish meeting rescheduled

This comes after the board bumped back its Southeast and Yakutat shellfish meeting

A State of Alaska epidemiology bulletin can be found at https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/pages/default.aspx.
State updates STI protocol after reported drop

The state has been experiencing an outbreak since 2017

The Kenai Fire Department headquarters are photographed on Feb. 13, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Police identify remains found in burned car

Kenai Police and Fire departments responded to a car fire at Beaver Creek in Kenai on Jan. 7

Most Read