BERKOWITZ HAS NOTHING TO SAY?
It’s not just anecdotal: Anchorage is so crime-ridden that even the U.S. Department of Justice thinks it’s a crisis. Alaska’s biggest city has joined a list of 9 others added to the National Public Safety Partnership Initiative, due to the city’s sustained levels of violence that far exceed the national average.
Attorney General William P. Barr announced the news on Monday. The cities are:
• Anniston, Alabama
• Oxford, Alabama
• Anchorage, Alaska
• Davenport, Iowa
• Wichita, Kansas
• Baton Rouge, Louisiana
• Baltimore, Maryland
• Cleveland, Ohio
• Amarillo, Texas
• Harris County, Texas
CHIEF DOLL APPLIED FOR PROGRAM
Police Chief Justin Doll applied to have Anchorage named to the initiative, which will bring substantial crime-fighting resources to his department. To qualify, cities cannot have declared themselves “sanctuary” cities. Anchorage has not quite gone that far, although Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is on record pushing sanctuary initiatives.
Several watchdog groups and unaligned observers consider Anchorage a de facto sanctuary city, including Ballotpedia, which gives its rationale here.
But because Anchorage has not officially declared itself as such, it was included in the safety partnership, which provides funding for more aggressive investigation and pursuit of violent criminals, especially those involved in gun crime, drug trafficking and gang violence. Baltimore had previously been disqualified because it had self-identified as a sanctuary city, a safe harbor for illegal immigrants.
“I congratulate Chief Doll and the Anchorage Police Department for their successful application to the PSP program,” said U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder in a statement. “APD’s dedication to seeking all available resources to help stem violent crime in Anchorage is impressive.”
‘NOTHING TO REPORT’ BERKOWITZ
Mayor Berkowitz issued no statement acknowledging the crime-fighting initiative, which comes as a result of the 2017 executive order by President Donald Trump, charging the Justice Department to lead a national effort to combat violent crime. In June, 2017, the Justice Department announced the formation of the National Public Safety Partnership initiative.
The last public announcement Berkowitz made was to congratulate the city of Coral
Gables Springs, Florida for its artwork installation Temple of Time that was ceremoniously burned, ala Burning Man, because … art.
ALASKA DELEGATION PRAISES CRIME-FIGHTING INITIATIVE
Alaska’s congressional delegation was pleased: “Anchorage is facing alarmingly high rates of violent crimes and addressing this issue will take coordination at the federal, state, and local level—an all hands on deck approach,” the delegation said in a joint statement. “At a time when areas in Alaska are struggling so much with crime, we are encouraged to know the Department of Justice has chosen Anchorage as one of the new PSP sites. We are hopeful that this is the first step of many public safety initiatives from the Department of Justice. We can’t ignore the reality of what’s happening in these communities. As a delegation, we are committed to continuing our efforts in conjunction with the administration to combat the devastating epidemic of violent crime.”
“The Public Safety Partnership is a successful program that directs federal law enforcement resources to the cities where they can have the greatest impact,” Attorney General Barr said in his statement Monday. “These resources help police departments to diagnose where crime is highest—and why—and to find, arrest and prosecute criminals. Several participating cities have already seen dramatic reductions in violent crime over the past two years. As we expand this program to 10 more cities across America, we are determined to replicate that success.”
The main participating Justice Department components include the Office of Justice Programs, Office on Violence Against Women, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service.