Anchorage, state team up against domestic violence
A collaboration between the Municipality of Anchorage and the Alaska Department of Law is under way to enhance domestic-violence and property-crime investigations.
It’s part of a new agreement, signed Friday by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Gov. Bill Walker. The memo is the result of Anchorage Assembly discussions dating back to January, in which municipal prosecutors have considered taking on felony domestic-violence cases refused by the state due to low staffing.
Under the agreement, APD will embed two investigators in Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen's state office who will focus on felony domestic violence. The muni will also provide an assistant district attorney who specializes in domestic violence to work in Allen’s office.
Anchorage will fund the investigators; the state will fund the attorney.
“It’s critical that we go on the offense,” Berkowitz said during a Friday news conference at the Department of Law. “We can’t just be on the defense in terms of public safety.
“But we weren’t able to do that until we had the number of officers in the police department increase, and we weren’t able to it until we were able to put together the kind of agreements that allow for some of the cross-jurisdictional issues that take place.”
Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth has for the last two years reminded lawmakers about severe statewide budget cuts which have created a reduction in prosecutors, leaving those who remain overwhelmed with growing caseloads.
On Friday she said the inter-jurisdictional cooperation reflects part of a mission outlined in a broader plan eight months ago.
“We really were focusing on collaborating with our law enforcement partners, both at the municipal level and federal, and trying to be more efficient and effective in how we bring services to the state,” Lindemuth said. “This is a tangible direct benefit of the kinds of relationships that we wanted to see.”
Berkowitz said the deal, which takes effect June 1 according to Lindemuth, may also help increase prosecutions linked to Anchorage's recent wave of vehicle thefts.
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