Alaska Governor Releases Public Safety Action Plan

Gov. Bill Walker's plan aims to stem rising crime in the state and includes steps to address the opioid epidemic and drug trafficking.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker on Oct. 30 released a Public Safety Action Plan. He had directed Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth in August to work with Commissioners Walt Monegan, Valerie Davidson, and Dean Williams to identify actions the state can take to help reverse the trend of increasing crime that began in 2011, and Walker said the departments also got input from local, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners. All this was incorporated into the plan.

"Public safety is a priority for me. Alaskans don't feel safe right now, and that needs to change," he said. "I asked the public safety agencies to work with our law enforcement partners to put together a plan to help reverse the rise in crime; they came back with nearly 60 ideas to help continue building a safer Alaska."

The plan focuses efforts in four main areas: fairness and efficiency in the criminal justice system, addressing resource needs of Alaska's public safety agencies, improving the system for addressing mental health and substance abuse issues, and addressing the opioid epidemic and drug trafficking, which the plan describes as "immediate challenges."

"Public safety is a multi-faceted problem that needs a multi-faceted approach," Lindemuth said. "Legislative changes and additional resources are important, but we also need to leverage our law enforcement partnerships to really make a difference. That's why it was important to reach out while we were still drafting the plan to get input from our federal, local, and tribal partners."

Walker has called for passage of Senate Bill 54, which would allow courts to impose jail time for first-time Class C felonies or repeat theft offenses. The plan calls for efforts to increase space available at mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities.

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