Having served in law enforcement and as a first responder for more than fifteen years, nothing is more clear to me than the fact that public safety is only achieved when the public and government officials are working in partnership to combat crime and protect lives and property.
With the passage of SB91 (over the strenuous objections of law enforcement personnel all across Alaska), our state government abandoned that partnership.
The numerous band-aids that have been attempted since the passage of SB91 have not failed to stop the bleeding. Policymakers took the position that they knew better than law enforcement and the public when they experimented with the safety of our communities. That experiment has been a cataclysmic failure, and it is difficult to find a resident of the Mat-Su Valley who has not been effected by that failure.
Mat-Su residents feel betrayed today, and that betrayal will not be reversed through sympathetic speeches from politicians and further band-aids. SB91 must be repealed immediately, and we must reestablish a rational approach to public safety. Most importantly, we must return justice to our criminal justice system.
It is not the fault of our community when an individual steals or commits a violent crime against an innocent victim. It is not the fault of our community when those who commit these crimes are convicted and sent to prison. I have heard fellow legislators praise SB91 and argue that SB91 was needed to fix a criminal justice system that is “inherently discriminatory”.
It is not discrimination to enforce laws requiring that every citizen respect the person and property of their fellow citizens. By failing to consistently enforce such laws through adequate penalties, we have sent the message nationwide that crime pays in Alaska, and have invited criminals from other states to flock to Alaska. We are currently reaping the fruit of irrational public safety policies. These results were predictable, which is why they were opposed by the vast majority of those whose duty it is to enforce our laws and protect our safety each and every day.
We must reestablish that crime doesn’t pay in Alaska, and eliminate Alaska as a destination of choice for criminals. The public demands it, and we owe it to Alaskans to accomplish this immediately.