Safer Alaska, Building Resilient Communities

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic and Drug Trafficking

Woman over man with a helicopter above herTaking steps to address substance abuse has become particularly important as the nationwide opioid epidemic has struck Alaska– necessitating an emergency declaration from Governor Walker and instituting an incident command structure to marshal resources and respond to the most urgent and immediate impacts. The State will also focus efforts on reducing access to controlled substances generally by allocating additional state resources, in coordination with our federal partners, to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking crimes, and advancing legislation to help stem the tide of the importation of drugs.
A uniformed military member standing next to an Alaska State Trooper
58. In 2017, Governor Walker issued a
Disaster Declaration and established incident command structure to coordinate state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
59. The State continues to execute the
recommendations of the Opioid Policy Task Force and evaluate further measures to combat opioid abuse, including: expanding treatment capacities at existing facilities and recovery networks; improving access to group recovery in prisons; providing tools and resources to “second chance employers”; expanding drug takeback programs; increasing security measures to prevent importation of opioids on bush airlines, airports, ferries, etc.; funding public and provider education campaigns; fund distribution of overdose education materials and naloxone kits to first responders.
• Situation reports detailing ongoing efforts
provided to the work group every 3 weeks.

• In addition, an action planning process is underway. The Alaska Opioid Response Action
Plan will comprehensively address Alaska’s opioid crisis led by SOA Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention

• DHSS initiated an online Opioid Data Dashboard
on March 31st to provide current, publicly accessible data on the health effects of the opioid epidemic and the State’s response.
60. Explore ways to increase use of social
media to promote positive, useful
messages for parents to help in drug and
crime prevention. (DPS, DHSS)
ONGOING: DHSS has produced several videos that highlight Alaskans dealing with opioid addiction, and how to safely dispose of unused prescription pills. The department will continue to produce more opioid-related web videos and
other material for DHSS social media channels.
61. Evaluate tools for citizens to text tips to law enforcement (e.g. Crime Stoppers P3 mobile app). (DPS) IN PROGRESS: Potential off-the-shelf tools were
identified for evaluation; DPS is evaluating workflow & logistics involved.
62. Increase state resources directed at catching and prosecuting drug traffickers, including:
a. Create a statewide drug prosecutor position (LAW) and
b. Add drug dogs to assist in disrupting the drug trade and catch traffickers (DPS, DOT).
a. COMPLETED: The Legislature approved the
Governor’s FY19 budget request for a statewide drug prosecutor position, Law has
tasked Katholyn Runnels to take on this role;
b. IN PROGRESS: DPS added one scent detection
dog to patrol teams in Kenai and a second dog, funded by Tanana Chiefs Conference, to
the State Drug Enforcement Unit in Fairbanks.
TSAIA has added an officer and drug dog to their drug detection team.
63. Develop a statewide coordination plan and standards for drug dogs working with
private and public stakeholders, potentially
to include: a coordinator in APSC, training
protocol led by the statewide drug prosecutor, and APSC certification of K9 officers. (DPS, LAW)
IN PROGRESS: Working to identify and allocate needed resources to develop policy in
coordination with the new statewide drug prosecutor.
64. Seek a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation to increase availability of federal funds for drug investigations. (DPS)

HIDTA petition approved, Alaska
designated a HIDTA.

65. Better coordinate drug enforcement efforts with federal partners, including:
a. Increased collaboration with Ted Stevens
International Airport Police for recently
established WAANT Unit;
b. Cross-deputize a state prosecutor as a
Special Assistant United States Attorney to prosecute drug offenses in federal court; and
c. Work with federal law enforcement agencies in implementing the Anti-Violent Crime Strategy.
ONGOING: Generally, collaboration with federal partners continues as an ongoing effort.
66. Propose legislation to more effectively combat drug trafficking. COMPLETED: Governor’s legislative proposals for 2018 session included:
• Allowing dangerous drugs to be scheduled by regulation instead of legislation so the State can respond more quickly to new drugs (SB 146 and HB 291); and
• Establishing a Class A felony for large amounts
of controlled substances (SB 147 and HB 292).
The Legislature included authority for the
Attorney General to schedule drugs by regulation in HB 312 and passed that bill on May 11, 2018. The Legislature did not pass legislation to address trafficking large amounts of controlled
67. [NEW] Better coordination and
communication between law enforcement
and transportation companies to combat
drug trafficking through mail and ports of
ONGOING: Necessary information-sharing among stakeholders ongoing. DPS and LAW presented to the Alaska Air Carriers meeting on May 3. AMHS is cooperating with law enforcement to stop drug trafficking on the
marine highway.

Have Suggestions?

Send us feedback or suggestions on building a Safer Alaska.