Gov. Dunleavy announces public safety appointments, promises focus on victims of crime
Under a promise to Alaskans that public safety "is job number one," Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced his newly appointed public safety team during a news conference at Anchorage's State Crime Lab on Wednesday.
Amanda Price will serve as the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Nancy Dahlstrom will serve as commissioner of the Department of Corrections (DOC), and Kevin Clarkson will serve as Alaska's attorney general.
Department of Public Safety
Price is a well-known victims' advocate. According to a release from the Office of the Governor, she last served as a senior adviser on violent crime response and prevention under former Gov. Bill Walker and as the executive director of Standing Together Against Rape (STAR).
"I am eager to get to work so that the governor's promise to Alaskans that we will see a safer Alaska is identified quickly," said Price.
She announced current DPS employees as part of her support staff. Michael Duxbury will be deputy commissioner of the department and Major Andy Greenstreet, who has been serving as acting director of the Division of Alaska State Troopers.
Colonel Doug Massie, a former sergeant, did not attend the conference, but acts as the director of the Division of Wildlife Troopers. He contributes more than two decades of law enforcement experience and has served as president of the Public Safety Employees Association, Alaska's largest police union.
"One of the primary responsibilities of the Commissioner's Office within DPS is to ensure adequate resources are available for the department to fulfill its mission. That has been a challenge within the Department of Public Safety," said Price, "[...] We are going to begin to see a correction to some of those challenges."
Department of Corrections
Newly re-elected to the Alaska House of Representatives serving Eagle River, Chugiak, and JBER, Nancy Dahlstrom is now set to resign in order to serve as DOC commissioner.
"It is apparent that we need to make some significant changes," Dahlstrom, a Republican, said. "I am thrilled that the governor has said public safety is number one. I am very pleased that he wants us all to work as a team, and not individual departments working toward individual goals."
According to the release from Gov. Dunleavy's office, "Currently, Dahlstrom is a consultant for WEKA, a security, personal safety, and secure transport provider. [...] Dahlstrom holds a bachelor's degree in human resources from Wayland Baptist University, and a master's degree in organizational management from the University of LaVerne."
Dahlstrom named Leitoni Tupou and Dan Carothers as deputy commissioners. Tupou is currently the director of the Division of Institutions and has been employed by DOC for 18 years. Carothers brings 28 years of experience in Alaska corrections and owns Alaska Polygraph, LLC.
"I know that we have a lot of work to do. It’s day one on the job," Dahlstrom said. "It’s gonna be a lot of long hours and late nights, and we’re here to work for forwarding and promoting the governor's agenda of public safety and we will accomplish that goal."
Department of Law
Clarkson is an attorney in private practice at Brena, Bell, & Clarkson, P.C., according to Gov. Dunleavy's office.
"Clarkson was admitted to Super Lawyers in 2014-2017, a distinction held by no more than five percent of Alaska attorneys and he is "A" rated with Martindale-Hubbell," the release states.
Clarkson announced Treg Taylor will join him as deputy attorney general in the Civil Division. Taylor currently serves as senior corporate counsel for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
"We have a talented team of lawyers working within the Department of Law and they deserve our support and our respect," Clarkson said Wednesday, highlighting the work of prosecutors within the District Attorney's Offices and the Office of Special Prosecutions, "[...] Those folks work tirelessly behind the scenes, often out of public view and public recognition, and they deserve our support and our respect and our thanks for the hard work that they do."
He said his focus will be on providing resources to the department.
"I plan to try as best, I can as quick as I can, to step alongside them to see how I can best help make sure they have the tools and support they need to protect public safety for Alaskans."
'Public safety is absolutely job number one'
The governor said public safety is "job number one," a priority that will be reflected in his budget.
"Alaska cannot be proud of its statistics. We have got to flip the chart on this, and all I can tell Alaskans is this, the primary function of any governor is public safety," Dunleavy said. "The primary function of any governor is to turn this culture around which has occurred in the last three or four years, where we now have to think where we park our car, what's in our front seat, who's walking behind us, do I leave the lights on. My goal is that we get back to an Alaska where we don't have to worry about those things."
He also made a commitment to approach public safety with a focus on the victims of crime.
"This is absolutely something that has to occur and should have occurred for a long time, that the focus has to be on the victims," he said.
When asked whether the legislature or the Governor's Office will take the lead on an Senate Bill 91 rewrite, Gov. Dunleavy said, "I think you're going to have some legislators that are looking at a repeal and rewrite and our office is in the process of going through that as well, so hopefully we'll have conversations with legislators and maybe meet up some ideas in the bill."
He also gave an update on the employment status of roughly 800 at-will state employees who received a letter asking them to resign and reapply for their positions, saying he has received more than 750 responses.
"Just a couple of those individuals chose not to be part of the incoming administration, so we're in the process now of having our commissioners, and we will have our division directors, have conversations with those individuals. I would anticipate that the vast majority of those individuals will be back working for the new administration. They've expressed the desire to do so, and so the commissioners will be taking a look at those departments."
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