Safer Alaska, Building Resilient Communities

Identify Public Safety Resource Needs

State agencies must have adequate resources to react to the crime that State Trooper visiting small cabin on snow machineoccurs, hold offenders accountable, and ultimately work to prevent and deter crime on the front-end. The state’s geography and the remoteness of many communities pose inherent logistical and fiscal challenges for state public safety agencies and the criminal justice system. These long-standing challenges have proven even more problematic following several years of substantial revenue shortfalls and the resulting reductions in the agency budgets. Public safety agencies are struggling to find the resources to respond to rising crime trends, especially in rural areas.
9. Develop and improve tools and processes for sharing data and information among law enforcement agencies, including:

a. Develop interfaces to connect various agency databases;

b. Consider policy requiring DPS reports to be completed within 48 hours; and

c. Improve availability of the Alaska Records Management System (i.e., law enforcement specific case management database).
a. IN PROGRESS: Expecting 1st test of pushing case from DPS to LAW in coming month(s); trouble shooting and expanding use to follow.

b. IN PROGRESS: DPS reviewing policies.

c. IN PROGRESS: Agreement with local law enforcement agencies finalized; training completed in Kenai and Homer; next steps include following up with other communities that have expressed interest.
10. Facilitate veterans’ access to existing services through Department of Military and Veterans Affairs while under DOC supervision and after reintegration to community. (DOC, DMVA) IN PROGRESS:
• DMVA is developing an Incarcerated Veteran Module for its Veterans Information System, which will allow DMVA to reach out to veterans 6 months before release to initiate process for federal VA benefits (medical, disability, educations, and housing); DMVA also produced a new pamphlet, with contact information for services, which DOC will provide to incarcerated veterans.
• The Offender Management Plan and release planning identifies services for veterans, and coordinated for those who are eligible.
11. Reach out to community partners to explore options to expand citizen crime watch programs and other locally driven solutions to deter crime and improve public safety. ONGOING: DPS and LAW discussed with stakeholder groups and community representatives at town hall meetings. DPS is providing information on best practices to established Community Watch groups and crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). The Legislature also included $75,000 in the budget for community watch programs.
12. [NEW] Develop plan for targeted diversity recruitment in public safety agencies. IN PROGRESS: In discussion among commissioners as part of the recruitment and retention discussion, #33 below.
13. [NEW] Propose legislation to allow Alaska Police Standards Council (APSC) to request criminal background checks from the FBI for persons training to be or employed as police officers. COMPLETED: Governor Walker introduced SB 148 and HB 293 in January 2018. The Legislature passed SB 148, which will allow APSC to conduct background checks, and transmitted the bill to the Governor on April 15.
14. Seek funding for 2 more prosecutors in Anchorage given increased demand from record number of homicides. (LAW) COMPLETED: Legislature passed budget with Governor’s request for 2 prosecutors for Anchorage included.
15. Add 60 pre-trial officers in January. (DOC) IN PROGRESS: 40 hired and on the ground; other hires pending testing.
16. Add dedicated criminal investigators in Bethel and Anchorage to assist in DVSA prosecutions. (DPS, LAW) COMPLETED: 2 long-term, non-permanent investigator positions included in Governor’s FY19 budget request. The Legislature funded these positions, which will be embedded in the Department of Law.
17. Create statewide DVSA hotline. IN PROGRESS: LAW, DPS, and the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA) are working with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to identify existing resources and evaluate options.
18. Develop and implement a records and classification unit to address federal requirements for crime classification, data integrity, and consistent crime reports (requires 6 PCNs). (DPS) IN PROGRESS: Positions included in Governor’s FY19 budget request. The Legislature funded these 6 positions.
19. Propose legislation to increase surcharges imposed for violations of state and municipal law that go to the Police Training Fund. COMPLETED: The Governor introduced legislation in January 2018 to support the Police Training Fund. The Legislature passed HB 312 on May 11, 2018, which included this public safety priority.
20. Identify law enforcement presence in each community and develop a communications plan to improve coordination among state and local authorities. (LAW, DPS) IN PROGRESS: DPS compiled list of state certified and supervised VPSOs and VSOs and completed survey of trooper detachment commanders for information regarding TPOs and VPOs; ongoing outreach by DPS and LAW to municipalities and tribes to gather information and update DCCED’s existing public database, the Alaska Community Database Online which will house information.
21. Increase trooper presence and improve response times in rural areas by:

a. Revising travel restrictions to allow more law enforcement trips to rural Alaska for non-emergency policing and building relationships with rural community residents;

b. Improving transportation and logistics coordination in rural areas (i.e., sharing pilots, aircraft, and boats among state agencies);
c. Filling trooper vacancies; and

d. Exploring possibility of a consolidated communications center with regional dispatch centers to provide more reliable emergency communication services. (DPS)
a. COMPLETED: Revised travel restrictions to allow more law enforcement trips to rural Alaska for proactive policing and relationship-building with rural community residents. DPS also moving forward with a Rural Community Commitment Team to work rotating shifts in rural communities to address specific need for troopers and policing in those areas. $2 million added to the Governor’s FY19 budget request for rural travel; the Legislature funded about $1.1 million of this request to be shared between the troopers and VPSOs.

b. IN PROGRESS: DMVA and DPS identified hurdles to assigning DMVA pilots for DPS travel/missions including training costs.

c. IN PROGRESS: Working to address major hurdles and find other recruitment and retention tools.

d. COMPLETED: The Governor requested $9.5 million in the FY19 budget due to the lack of 911 services in more than 90 percent of the state. The Legislature funded $3.5 million of this request.
22. Evaluate opportunities to strengthen the VPSO program, including:

a. Funding options such as the possibility of VPSO-specific recruitment funding or allowing greater flexibility in the use of lapsed funds;

b. Allowing VPSOs to cross-deputize to enforce tribal ordinances if the VPSO grantee and tribe agree. (DPS)
a. COMPLETED: DPS and VPSO Grantees have agreed to flexibility in use of lapsed funds for recruitment and other purposes.

b. COMPLETED: If a tribe desires and regional contractor agrees, a VPSO can be cross-deputized to enforce tribal ordinances that do not conflict with state law.
23. Add telecommunication resources in more jails for remote court hearings. (DOC) IN PROGRESS: Interagency discussions have identified priority facilities and DOC is moving forward with procurement and installation of telecommunication equipment, as well as adding dedicated lines where needed. DOC is also working with Public Defenders and Office of Public Advocacy to streamline the process for defense counsel to consult with clients to reduce unnecessary pre-trial prisoner transport.
24. For the many rural communities that do not yet have victim shelters, work with tribes and regional nonprofits to set up safe-houses. IN PROGRESS: Agencies have initiated conversation with CDVSA about expanding victim shelters in smaller communities.
25. Educate local public safety partners about processes and standards for evidence to enable state prosecution of crimes investigated by local agencies. (LAW) IN PROGRESS: Local district attorneys are engaging in outreach to tribes and municipalities in their jurisdictions about better coordination and collecting of evidence to aid in the prosecution of cases. LAW presented training at TCC’s Tribal Court Conference in May 2018.
26. Add prosecutors in rural Alaska (1 for Kotzebue, 1 for Bethel). (LAW) COMPLETED: Included in Governor’s FY19 budget request. The Legislature funded this request.
27. Continue implementing diversion agreements that provide for civil remedies administered by tribal courts to address low level offenses and crimes with the consent of the offender in rural areas including:

a. The civil diversion agreement with the Department of Law and

b. The Division of Juvenile Justice’s similar agreement to refer appropriate juvenile cases to tribal courts. (DHSS, LAW)
ONGOING: Training with LAW, DPS, and Nulato completed on February 15; outreach presentation to Utqiaġvik on April 11; and additional training conducted at TCC Tribal Court Conference in May 2018.

IN PROGRESS: Seven Tribal Court diversion agreements for youth have been signed and six more communities have expressed interest.
28. Coordinate with tribes in providing child protection services. (DHSS) ONGOING: Compact signed; as of March 30, 16 support services funding agreements with tribes have been signed.
29. Seek additional federal resources to support State and local public safety programs. IN PROGRESS: Exploring options for additional federal funding, including HIDTA discussed at #64, below. DPS and DEED evaluating additional grant funding opportunities.
30. Explore ability of industry partners to develop plan for technology to reduce car thefts and aid in recovery efforts. IN PROGRESS: DPS to research application of existing technology and work on communication with public.                                                                                                                                    
31. Evaluate further opportunities to improve the VPSO program. (DPS, DOC, LAW) IN PROGRESS: Generally, under discussion with Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council public safety subcommittee at monthly meetings. Also, negotiations are ongoing with DPS and contractors to improve the program, provide flexibility, and address regional concerns.
32. Develop smartphone technology to collect and preserve evidence when other tools are not available as well as more efficiently deliver evidence to state prosecutors. IN PROGRESS: LAW, DPS, and OIT evaluating potential options for off-the-shelf application; DPS arranging pilot program.
33. Improve retention and recruitment for public safety agencies, including: troopers, VPSOs, pilots, and corrections officers. ONGOING: Inter-departmental meetings to improve retention and recruitment in all public safety departments. DOA is identifying best practices and a menu of options for agencies.
34. Improve aircraft availability to better respond to rural Alaska calls to DPS. Assign an aircraft to the Nome trooper post and update other aircraft. (DPS)
IN PROGRESS: The Legislature approved 1 pilot position of the 2 requested in the Governor’s FY19 budget; DPS has identified hangar space and created pilot position; need to hire pilot and then move aircraft to Nome.
35. Leverage the FirstNet program to increase the connectivity in rural Alaska. (DPS) IN PROGRESS: AT&T awarded federal grant to expand cellular networks and improve connectivity in rural AK; DPS reviewed AT&T’s plan and identified priority areas; based on the plan, expect additional assets on the ground potentially in 2020.
36. Increase school fire inspections and training for rural fire departments. (DPS) IN PROGRESS: Planning for biennial inspections and trainings underway.
37. Evaluate Washington State’s model for arrest diversion of low-level misdemeanors. (DOC) IN PROGRESS: DOC researching.
38. Evaluate various legislative proposals that would further enable tribal courts to provide civil remedies for certain offenses. (LAW) IN PROGRESS: Under discussion with stakeholders, including the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council.
39. Evaluate the ability to release prisoners back to home community instead of place of arrest to improve access to support network. COMPLETED: DOC confirmed flexibility to send prisoners to home communities under current policies. Also, the Returning Home program provides rental assistance to those leaving prison.
40. Explore alternatives for supervising parolees in rural communities, including annual training for VPSOs. (DPS) IN PROGRESS: Interagency discussions of pilot programs for tribes to supervise offenders.
41. Explore other opportunities to deploy telecommunications resources to improve access to services, potentially including remote probation supervision, out-patient treatment, and parenting assistance in Child in Need of Aid cases. IN PROGRESS: DHSS evaluated recommendations from the Medicaid Redesign Telehealth Stakeholder Workgroup and published responses.
42. Continue evaluating how to best allocate existing resources throughout the criminal justice system and where there may be a need for additional resources, including for the court system and associated stakeholders. ONGOING: Regular commissioner-level meetings on allocation of state resources.

Have Suggestions?

Send us feedback or suggestions on building a Safer Alaska.