SB 54 Passes House, What's Next for Criminal Justice Reform, and Apply to be a Trooper
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
House Passes Senate Bill 54
I’m thinking of all of our Veterans today, including my brother and Grandfather, who served our country honorably and fought to protect the freedoms we cherish as Americans. This week we also honor our Women Veterans, with their own day on November 9th, as passed by the legislature in 2000. I loved reading this story about honoring our local Women Veteran sheroes at the VA in Anchorage on Alaska Women Veterans Day.
Neighborhood crime and a significant uptick in vehicle theft has everyone feeling concerned, and even unsafe. This must change. Senate Bill 54 started out addressing nine issues, but after many amendments in both the Judiciary and Finance Committees and then more amendments on the floor it’s been changed in about two dozen different ways. The House is now waiting on the Senate to consider the changes and vote to accept them or send the bill to a conference committee where members from the House and Senate will work together to work out the differences.
On the two big issues I’ve been hearing a lot about, property theft and vehicle theft, here are the current changes. Once the bill is finalized I will provide a full breakdown of all the changes. I gave more details on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/RepresentativeGeranTarr/
What Happens Next for Criminal Justice Reform?
The reforms included in Senate Bill 91 are consistent with what leading law enforcement officials around the country are saying needs to be done to improve public safety. In fact, just a few days before the Special Session began in Juneau hundreds of law enforcement professionals were meeting in Washington D.C. to push for sentencing reform, shorter sentences, and more treatment.
Specifically, in a letter from the Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration to President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, they say:
“We do not believe that public safety is served by a return to tactics that are overly punitive without strong purpose. From decades of experience on the front lines, we have learned first-hand that these responses are ineffective to reduce crime. We can not incarcerate our way to safety.”
Two specific things challenged the success of Senate Bill 91, the pre-trial services not being in place at the time of implementation and the change in provider for statewide treatment services in the Department of Corrections. Beyond these, lack of resources for law enforcement and the opioid epidemic are major contributors.
On the pre-trial services, they will come online starting January 1, 2018. This effort is critical to the reform effort because research showed a large number of inmates in our facilities were in pre-trial status, meaning a person could spend a significant amount of time in jail without having been sentenced for a crime. This could lead to job loss, homelessness, family issues, and so on. No one that is a threat should be released into the community and we will have to carefully monitor this program to make sure it works. You can learn more about the Pretrial Enforcement Division here.
On the treatment services, when the legislature put additional funding in July of 2016 I expected the services would be expanded fairly quickly. However, as the contract with the old provider was being renegotiated the negotiations failed and a new provider had to be found. This delayed treatment services from being expanded when we thought they would.
Some say Senate bill 91 put the cart before the horse and I can understand why. Folks wonder why more treatment wasn’t available sooner and I agree that has been a significant issue. It wasn’t the legislature adding funding that was the problem; it was the change in provider that slowed things down. Senate Bill 54 as passed by the House also adds $2 million more for treatment so the state will have put in $6 million towards services.
We recently held a 3.5 hour Health Committee meeting to get an update and the good news is that hundreds more Alaskans will have access to treatment starting this month and that will continue. You can watch the video of the meeting here and find the documents here.
During my first year as a legislator, I made a commitment to my community and to myself that I would do everything in my power to help the people that need it most. I’m proud to have fought for treatment services, mental health services, community based services every year in the budget process, and have worked to pass laws like Erin’s Law, that teaches our children personal body safety, and SB 55, that required a statewide audit of our untested rape kits. Ending violence in our communities has and remains a top priority for me. We know prevention works and I truly believe that in order to reduce crime, we must first address the underlying issues- addiction, homelessness, and mental health. In case you missed it, here’s a clip of my floor speech, right before the passing vote.
Interested in being an Alaska State Trooper?
Interested applicants must pass an exam before the can apply to the Trooper Academy. There are two testing opportunities coming up next week! Let’s share this information far and wide so we can get folks to these exam opportunities and on track to apply for the Department of Public Safety Training Academy beginning on July 29, 2018. Let’s remind our interested neighbors and community members that the training is paid for by the state, and that they will receive a salary and benefits while attending the Academy.
All applicants must successfully pass the written test (Law Enforcement Officer Exam) through www.publicsafetytesting.com IN ADDITION TO applying on Workplace Alaska or their application will not be complete. For more information on the test, testing fees, upcoming testing dates, and to register to take the test, go to www.publicsafetytesting.com. After you register for the written test, study materials will be provided to you electronically. Additional study materials are available for purchase through[www.publicsafetytesting.com.]www.publicsafetytesting.com.
Alaska Applicants, we have multiple testing dates available in November located in Fairbanks and Anchorage at the following locations and times:
If you reside outside of Alaska or Washington State and are interested in testing for the Alaska State Trooper, please visit https://www.publicsafetytesting.com/outofstate to schedule a written exam in your State!
Applicants must register in advance at [www.publicsafetytesting.com]www.publicsafetytesting.com. More dates will be added in the future. If unable to test at the above dates please visit https://www.publicsafetytesting.com/outofstate
Applicants are encouraged to review the Department of Public Safety's website prior to continuing in this application process. Please visit the following site: www.alaskastatetrooper.com
P.S. Last week in our announcements we made a mistake and listed the location for the upcoming Airport Heights Community Council as the Unitarian Church. Oops! That was from when the school was under construction and now all AHCC meetings are back the Airport Heights Elementary School. So, the next meeting is Thursday, November 16th at 7 pm at Airport Heights Elementary School. We also have Mountain View Community Council this Monday, November 13th at 7pm at the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club. Hope to see you at an upcoming meeting!