(ANCHORAGE, ALASKA) – Friday, Governor Bill Walker shared improvements to public safety in Alaska, including the recent High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation, and progress on the Public Safety Action Plan, the administration’s multi-faceted approach to address crime in Alaska. Governor Walker praised ongoing partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies helping to build a Safer Alaska.
“The HIDTA designation is a critical step in our efforts to improve public safety,” Governor Walker said at a press conference, joined by statewide law enforcement partners. “The designation provides additional resources to strengthen partnerships between local, state, and federal law enforcement and creates new opportunities for us to combat illicit drug use in Alaska. Combined with our ongoing efforts under the Public Safety Action Plan, Alaskans should know we are taking advantage of every opportunity to build a state where they feel safe in their homes and communities.”
The HIDTA program reduces drug trafficking and production by facilitating cooperation between different layers of government around the country, and by improving intelligence sharing between agencies. In 2016, roughly $250 million was invested in the task. Alaska’s HIDTA designations include the First, Third, and Fourth Judicial Districts, and is one of several recent accomplishments under the Public Safety Action Plan.
“This designation and recently passed legislation underscore the important steps the State is taking to address the public’s concern with rising crime rates in Alaska,” Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said. “Working together, these measures will enable a more expedient and effective response to the introduction of new illicit drugs in our communities, and give us the resources to better prosecute those who pose a threat to public safety.”
The Public Safety Action Plan was introduced last October. This session, the Legislature passed several public safety bills implementing key features, including omnibus crime bill HB 312. The new law and the operating and capital budgets provide resources to:
- Allow judges to consider out-of-state criminal history during pre-trial risk assessments;
- Authorize the Attorney General to ban certain dangerous drugs by emergency regulation;
- Authorize the Alaska Police Standards Council to conduct background checks on law enforcement applicants;
- Hire five more prosecutors for enhanced state-wide criminal prosecution;
- Hire two domestic violence and sexual assault investigators, and six positions for better records and classification in our criminal database system;
- Begin the process to modernize Alaska’s outdated 911 system;
- Provide for $12 million in grants to combat substance abuse issues;
- Hire an additional pilot to expedite response time to rural Alaska for criminal cases; and
- Strengthen the Village Public Safety Officer program by providing funding for recruitment.
In addition, several of the Action Plan’s improvements to school safety were accomplished. That includes creating a better system for Alaskans to surrender firearms, establishing better capabilities for residents to text tips to public safety agencies, improving access to services for students who need institutional care, increasing fire inspections in rural Alaska, and applying for more federal grant funds.
Source: State of Alaska
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