Mat-Su crime prompts call for borough-funded policing
As Alaska State Troopers struggle to keep up with crime in the Mat-Su Borough, Assembly member Jim Sykes is asking voters to pick up the tab.
According to a study published by the UAA Justice Center in March, troopers need 26 more positions to keep up with call volumes in the area.
For now, however, state Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan says that's not possible.
In a letter to borough Mayor Vern Halter, Monegan says the shortage stems from past budget cuts, resignations, retirements and a significant drop-off in applicants. But Monegan says the department is actively working to retain and recruit more troopers.
In the meantime, Sykes says the borough could vote to pay for its own law enforcement -- either by creating a police department from scratch, or by contracting with Palmer or Wasilla police to expand their areas of coverage.
Sykes wants the Assembly to place a question on the ballot this October: Should the borough begin steps to add police powers to areas outside its cities?
"My sense is that people want something done -- and like, you know, most taxpayers, they want it done for free," Sykes said. "And that’s not going to happen. I’ve assured people that it’s going to cost something."
Were voters to say yes on a ballot this fall, Sykes says contracting a police force would cost the average taxpayer about $60 a month.
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