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.
15. 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 (ARMS) (i.e., law enforcement specific case management database) to enhance data sharing.

a.       IN PROGRESS: Expecting first test of pushing case from DPS to LAW in coming months; troubleshooting and expanding use to follow.

b.       IN PROGRESS: DPS reviewing policies.

c.        IN PROGRESS: Finalizing data sharing agreement with state law enforcement agencies; training completed in Kenai and Homer. Fairbanks Airport Police and Fire came online with ARMS in April and training will be held this fall. Next steps include following up with other communities that have expressed interest.
16. Facilitate veterans’ access to existing services through Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) while under DOC supervision and after reintegration to community. (DOC, DMVA)

IN PROGRESS:

  • DMVA has developed an “Incarcerated Veteran Module” to allow DMVA to identify and reach incarcerated veterans 6 months before release to initiate the process for federal VA benefits (medical, disability, education, and housing); DMVA is working with DOC to receive DOC veterans’ data to assist with their services and support upon release.
  • DOC is enabling DMVA Contractor Veterans Service Officers to work with veterans while they are still incarcerated to ensure healthcare and other benefits are available immediately upon their release.
17. 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. ONGOINGDPS has been holding monthly meetings with community watch groups in Kenai and Mat-Su areas with additional meetings held in other rural locations. The Legislature appropriated $115,000 to community policing groups in Anchorage and Fairbanks and an additional $75,000 for distribution for community policing organizations to be distributed as grants through DCCED.
18. Develop plan for targeted diversity recruitment in public safety agencies. IN PROGRESS: In discussion among commissioners as part of the recruitment and retention discussion.
19. 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: On June 22, Governor Walker signed into law SB 148 which allows APSC to conduct background checks for village police officers to ensure officers are qualified and of good moral character.
20. [NEW] Provide tools to facilitate crime victim access to, and involvement in, criminal justice system.

a.       [NEW] COMPLETED: HB 216, signed June 2018, allows the Office of Victims’ Rights to pay up to $10,000 from a restorative justice account for court ordered restitution to crime victims while the State continues collection efforts against the perpetrator.

b.       [NEW] Seek legislation to expand confidentiality protections for victims. LAW is exploring additional ways to strengthen victim representation through the criminal justice process.
21. Seek funding for more prosecutors in urban centers given increased demand from record number of homicides and other violent crime. (LAW)

a.       COMPLETED: For FY19, the Governor asked for and received two additional prosecutors and associated support staff for the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office.

b.      IN PROGRESS: For FY20, the Governor is requesting an additional five prosecutors and associated support staff for Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau.
22. Add 60 pre-trial officers in January. (DOC) IN PROGRESS: DOC has hired 53 Pretrial Enforcement Division (PED) officers as of September; hiring and testing is ongoing for the remaining officers and support staff. PED is currently monitoring 1,891 individuals on PED supervision with 746 of them on electronic monitoring. Since January 1, 2018, PED has made 1,198 re-arrests.
23. Add dedicated criminal investigators in western Alaska to assist in domestic violence and sexual assault prosecutions. (DPS, LAW) COMPLETED: The Governor asked for and received 2 long-term, non-permanent investigator positions for FY19. One position will be embedded in the Bethel District Attorney’s Office and one embedded in Nome.
24. Create statewide Domestic Violence Sexual Assault hotline. IN PROGRESS: LAW, DPS, and the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA) are working to identify existing resources and evaluate options, possibly addressing issue through tiered priority process.
25. [NEW] Address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) throughout state. [NEW] IN PROGRESS: Governor signed HB 31 into law, requiring ongoing reporting and testing on all AST untested SAKs; an additional $2.75 million in capital funds will allow testing of SAKs of other law enforcement agencies. An investigator and a special prosecutor have been hired and are looking at test results for case investigation and potential prosecutions.
26. 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) COMPLETED: The Governor requested and received 6 positions for FY19 for DPS records and classifications unit.
 27. 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 to support the Police Training Fund, which was ultimately included in HB 312. The Governor signed it into law in June 2018.
28. 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 a list of state certified and supervised VPSOs and VSOs and completed a survey of trooper detachment commanders for information regarding TPOs and VPOs; ongoing outreach by DPS and LAW to municipalities and Alaska Tribes to gather information and update DCCED’s existing public database, the Alaska Community Database Online which will house information.
29.   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 proactive policing and relationship- building 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.

d.      [NEW] Add troopers and other law enforcement.

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; it is not cost effective.

c.       IN PROGRESS: The Governor has announced a 7.5% pay increase for Alaska State Troopers with an additional 7.5% increase recommended to the Legislature.

d.     [NEW] Governor will seek funding to add 24 additional trooper positions once vacancies are filled.
30. [NEW] Build capacity in rural villages by strengthening the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a volunteer organization whose primary role is to augment and support the Alaska National Guard. (DMVA)

[NEW] IN PROGRESS:

  • DMVA and the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) have executed an MOU creating a Task Force to create a rural volunteer force to build capacity in rural villages for emergency preparedness, leveraging indigenous knowledge of subsistence food sources to further community resilience.
  • From a $210,000 legislative appropriation, ASDF is hiring part-time staff in Bethel and Kotzebue to increase scout detachments in northwest and southwest Alaska. Detachment staff will receive training in emergency preparedness and suicide and violence prevention.
  • AFN provided a $100K grant to focus on accelerating growth of the rural ASDF detachments and increasing rural community emergency preparedness; an executive director has been hired and is working with communities for more aggressive roll out plans.
  • AFN is producing a 3-5 minute video to highlight the positive and important role ASDF is playing in rural communities.
31. Build a statewide consolidated communications center with regional dispatch centers to provide more reliable emergency communication services. (DPS)

IN PROGRESS:
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. An additional appropriation will be sought in 2020 to complete this statewide dispatch and communication center.

32. [NEW] Create rural rapid response team, including appropriate aircraft to reach more airstrips in rural Alaska. (DPS) [NEW] IN PROGRESS: DPS creating RAPID team (Rural Alaska Protection Investigation and Deployment team), which will include seeking an appropriation for appropriate aircraft to allow greatly expanded reach to rural runways.
33.   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 be cross-deputized to enforce tribal civil ordinances if the VPSO grantee and tribe agree. (DPS)

c.      Increase salaries of VPSOs to aid in recruitment and retention of VPSOs for rural Alaska.

COMPLETED:

a.      DPS and VPSO grantees have agreed to flexibility in use of lapsed funds for recruitment and other purposes.

b.      If a tribe desires and the regional contractor agrees, a VPSO can be cross-deputized to enforce tribal civil ordinances that do not conflict with state law.

 

IN PROGRESS:

Governor to seek funding for VPSO program to increase VPSO salaries by 7.5% this year and an additional 7.5% next year.
35. 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: Four new victim service programs offering shelter, alternatives to shelter, and other victim support services funded in 2018 in Craig, Petersburg, Emmonak, and through the Kenaitze Indian Tribe in Kenai. The State is also reviewing the concept of establishing ‘safe-homes’ to shelter victims in small communities without shelters.
36. 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 and other communities in summer, with more planned for fall 2018.
37. Add prosecutorial resources in rural Alaska. (LAW)

a.       COMPLETED: For FY19, Governor requested and received 2 prosecutor positions and associated staff for Kotzebue and Bethel.

b.       IN PROGRESS: The Governor will ask for additional prosecution resources for rural Alaska, including additional support staff for Bethel and Nome.
38.   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. Applied for federal grant to issue sub-grants to Tribes to implement diversion agreements; awards will be announced in October. Meetings are continuing with all interested Tribes throughout fall 2018, and there will be training provided at the BIA Providers Conference in November 2018.

 

IN PROGRESS: Seven Tribal Court diversion agreements for youth have been signed and six more communities have expressed interest. Two civil diversion agreements have been signed and many Tribes have expressed interest.
39. Coordinate with Alaska Tribes in providing
child protection services. (DHSS)

ONGOING:

a.     Compact signed; one Support, Services, and Funding Agreement (SSFA) is in place, the second SSFA is currently being negotiated, and a third will be negotiated in FY19. Click here for video.

b.    Seeking legislation to further advance compacting of child welfare services to Tribes.
40. Seek additional federal resources to support state and local public safety programs.

IN PROGRESS: The State has applied for and is receiving grant funding for many different public safety areas, including:

  • Fighting drug trafficking;
  • Strengthening domestic violence and sexual assault initiatives;
  • Addressing the opioid epidemic;
  • Strengthening relationships with Tribes in the area of public safety; and
  • Improving communication across public safety agencies.
41. Develop plan to use technology to reduce car thefts and aid in recovery efforts. IN PROGRESS: State working to procure technology for rapid identification of stolen vehicles to facilitate faster response times and increase vehicle recovery.                                                                                                                                  
42. 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. Particular initiatives include:

  •  DMVA has certified the VPSO Academy on Field Training Officer time as eligible for VA education benefits, providing an additional stipend for future VPSOs receiving training. The first veteran hired using these benefits is now in the VPSO academy.
  • VPSO coordinators have also completed their new strategic plan and met in August to re- examine the grant application and consider whether modifications are needed.
  • The AK Army National Guard is divesting armories in rural Alaska village and has contacted contractors to explore possible uses in VPSO programs.
43. 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:

a.     LAW, DPS, and OIT are evaluating potential options for off-the-shelf application; DPS arranging pilot program.

b.   [NEW] The State crime lab is developing a portable attachment that would allow a smart phone to screen for and document body fluids.
44. Improve retention and recruitment for public safety agencies, including troopers, VPSOs, pilots, Airport Police and Fire Officers, and corrections officers. ONGOING: Interdepartmental meetings to improve retention and recruitment in all public safety departments; DOA is identifying best practices and a menu of options for agencies.
45. 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)
 

COMPLETED: The Legislature approved 1 pilot position of the 2 requested in the Governor’s FY19 budget.

 

IN PROGRESS: DPS has refurbished and upgraded an all-weather Caravan aircraft that will be dedicated to the region and will substantially decrease current dependence on expensive commercial air transport. A DMVA/DPS partnership provides hangar space for the aircraft; DPS continues to work toward hiring a pilot and moving the aircraft to Nome.
46. 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.
47. Increase school fire inspections and training for rural fire departments. (DPS) IN PROGRESSPlanning for biennial inspections and trainings is underway. The Legislature also provided $200,000 to increase inspections.
48. Evaluate Washington State’s model for arrest diversion of low-level misdemeanors. (DPS) IN PROGRESS: Interagency team did site visits of other states’ ‘law assisted diversion’ programs; departments are currently evaluating the best model for Alaska communities.
49. 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.
50. 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 return prisoners to their home communities; the Returning Home program provides rental assistance to those leaving prison.
51. Explore alternatives for supervising parolees in rural communities, including annual training for VPSOs. (DPS)

IN PROGRESS:

a.       Interagency discussions of pilot programs for Alaska Tribes to supervise offenders. DOC has also expanded “telemed” programming to allow for expanded supervision and treatment in rural communities.

b.      Partnership between DOC and DMVA to develop mentorship program utilizing existing Alaska State Defense Force members in rural locations and assist with probation supervision for rural communities.
52. 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 completed a review of the recommendations from the Medicaid Redesign Telehealth Stakeholder Workgroup and published responses to each recommendation.

Recommendations that fell under the purview of other departments were referred to those departments for review and consideration. An update on Telehealth will be included in the Annual Medicaid Reform Report to the Legislature on November 15, 2018.
53. 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.

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