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Crime trends in Alaska have been increasing since 2011, according to the office of Gov. Bill Walker, who on Monday announced a 10-page public safety action plan developed with the intent of reversing that trend and making Alaskans “feel safer in their communities.”
Those are worthy goals, and the administration is to be commended for taking steps toward addressing crime in a comprehensive way.
On the positive side, the administration says it worked with federal, tribal and local law enforcement partners in developing the plan. It’s good to have as broad a perspective as possible.
Causes of crime were considered, and the resulting plan has four primary areas of focus.
The focus areas include fairness and efficiency in the criminal justice system; addressing immediate challenges of drug trafficking and the opioid epidemic; addressing resource needs of the state’s public safety agencies; and improving the system for addressing mental health and substance abuse issues.
The plan has a total of 59 ideas. This is where things get difficult.
Reading through the list with a layperson’s eyes, it appears that most if not all of the ideas have genuine merit — and each concept likely has a constituency that believes it’s important.
Some appear relatively simple. Others require financial resources already in short supply. Some require evaluation and other processes that would stretch existing staff. Others would require buy-in from the Alaska Legislature or coordination with non-state entities that might or might not have the same priorities.
To be fair, the plan splits the 59 ideas into short-term action items and potential long-term or future actions to evaluate, which provides a potential initial framework for moving forward.
But it doesn’t seem fully accurate to describe the document released Monday as a plan.
Alaska now has 59 potentially excellent ideas for helping to stem a growing trend of crime in the state — and we’re pleased that the administration has gotten this far.
The next, more-difficult step is to develop the strategy and commitment for turning these ideas into real action.
That will be the plan worthy of the name.