The mission behind the Green Dot Violence Prevention Program is simple: No one has to do everything, but everyone can do something.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is hoping that idea can help lower the crime rates in the Municipality of Anchorage and is encouraging all municipal employees to go through the program.
As part of his mayoral campaign, Berkowitz stressed the need to improve public safety, and this he says, is just the beginning.
“This is one small step towards reaching a goal of a safe, secure Anchorage,” Berkowitz said. “We have other parts of what we’d like to achieve that are still going to be unfolded. We need a larger police force. We need a police force that’s capable of doing community policing.”
Green Dot aims to reduce the numbers of power-based crimes, like sexual and domestic assaults, bullying, stalking and child abuse. It teaches everyday people to look for the warning signs and find subtle ways to intervene.
Today, Green Dot trainer Melissa Emmal brought the training to the Anchorage Department of Health and Social Services.
“You need to only turn on the news to see gun violence and domestic violence homicides lately, and sexual assaults. It’s happening every day. It’s an epidemic,” Emmal said.
Emmal says crime mapping often presents violent offenses as red dots. She teaches participants ways they can outnumber the red ones with green ones. Green symbolizes a time someone chose not to ignore a warning sign, and instead took action.
“Just the other day when I was at a baseball game, for instance, I heard a mother yelling at her child for getting wet in a mud puddle and it was really loud. Knowing what I know now, maybe I would have asked for directions or asked about seating at the game or something like that to change the dynamic of the situation,” said municipal employee Mark Lessard.
Mayor Berkowitz participated in the Green Dot training himself last week at City Hall.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said municipal employee Deeann Fetko. “We are all very busy but it’s nice when we can take advantage of a training that can really help us serve others in our community.”
According to stats from the Alaska Victimization Survey conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, 59 out of every 100 women in Alaska will be sexually assaulted or the victim of domestic abuse. In Anchorage, it’s 51 out of 100.
Mayor Berkowitz says he wants to encourage all citizens to take the Green Dot challenge and help make Anchorage a safer place to live.
*Melissa Emmal’s name was misspelled in the on-air version of this story. It has been corrected online.