Annual Crime in Alaska Report Shows 18.5% Decrease in Crime
September 24, 2021
The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is a nationwide effort by federal, state, city, county, and tribal law enforcement agencies to report data on crimes reported in their jurisdiction. The report is a resource for measuring the trend and distribution of crime in Alaska. Under Alaska law, law enforcement agencies in Alaska are required to submit UCR data to the State of Alaska. In 2020, 32 agencies reported crime data to DPS. These agencies represent 99.5% of the state’s population.
"The overall decrease in Alaska's crime rate is encouraging and shows real progress in our efforts to make Alaska a safe place to live and raise a family. However, we must continue to double-down on our efforts to eliminate the scourge of sexual assault and domestic violence in our state and invest in meaningful public safety in rural Alaska," said Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell.
Cockrell said, "Every Alaskan, regardless of their address, gender, or race, deserves a life that is free of crime, and the Department of Public Safety is committed to doing our part to meet that goal."
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a prepared statement following the release of the report.
"Public safety in Alaska has been the top priority for my administration since the first day I took office. I immediately began work to repeal and replace SB 91 with crime legislation that makes sense and protects Alaskans,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy.
Dunleavy said, “And while the decline in crime rate numbers is a testament to the great work law enforcement and partners across the state are doing, we will not stop until sexual assaults and domestic violence are no longer a problem in our communities. I will continue with my plan to remove sexual predators and violent offenders from the streets in Alaska by immediately collecting 100% of the DNA owed in all authorized cases going forward and by collecting DNA from another 20,022 offenders who owe the State a sample of their DNA under State law through the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Corrections. My directive remains to reduce the sexual assault kit testing and processing times to 90 days and increasing funds to add more staff and resources to achieve that goal.”
Caution should be exercised when comparing data from year to year and making conclusions as the report does not account for when an incident occurred; it accounts for when it was reported. For example, burglary or theft occurring in November of one year may not have been discovered and reported until February of the next year. The incident is not retroactively applied to a previous year's data; it is counted in the year it was reported. Rape offenses are counted by victim, and each separation of time and place a rape occurs will also be counted. Sexual assaults spanning years will result in numerous counts of rape offenses being reported for a single victim.
The 2020 Crime in Alaska report was authored by the Alaska Department of Public Safety's Division of Statewide Services. The Division of Statewide Services provides technical and specialized services to the Department of Public Safety and law enforcement agencies across the state.
The UCR and Crime in Alaska reports are based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation UCR Program definitions of crimes to ensure consistency and uniformity in reported offenses on a national level. The definitions do not always echo state definitions; therefore, federal publications cannot accurately be compared to reports that use the state definitions for crimes as these are unique to each state. Additionally, the population counts for Crime in Alaska come from the US Census.
Quoting a news release from Governor Dunleavy, according to state law, anyone who is arrested or convicted for crimes against a person or a certain felony must provide DNA. Over the last 25 years, thousands of lawfully owed DNA samples were not collected in Alaska for various reasons.
DPS has cleared the backlog of previously unsubmitted, untested sexual assault kits from Alaska State Trooper cases and is nearing completion on untested sexual assault kits from all law enforcement agencies in Alaska. The governor’s plan includes the use of software and a tracking database to allow survivors and agencies involved in sexual assault response the ability to track the status and location of sexual assault evidence kits.
Governor Mike Dunleavy’s Omnibus Crime Bill, HB 49, was passed and signed into law seven months after he took office. The legislation repealed and replaced SB 91, and enacted timeframes for submission and testing. The law now requires that law enforcement notify the victims from which a kit was collected, that testing has been completed.
Governor Dunleavy will request the legislature appropriate $1.1 million of ARPA funds for this initiative, to be used in conjunction with $900,000 in existing Department of Public Safety funding for necessary resources. He also intends to introduce legislation next session to directly address sexual assaults and violent offenses.
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