Anchorage selected for federal safety initiative; mayor stays mum - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, March 6, 2021
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Anchorage selected for federal safety initiative; mayor stays mum

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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


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.”


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’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.”

Attorney General William Barr visited Alaska last month but focused most of his attention on the needs of rural communities. The announcement from the Justice Department came just days after he returned to Washington, D.C.

“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.

[Read: Crime so bad in Anchorage, even Democrats are fed up]

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I believe Mayor Ethan Berkowitz may have become a Kapo without a gun having been put to his head. Sorry your city elected such a weak leader.

  • Bye bye Burkowitz.

  • This seems really similar to the HIDTA designation for Alaska (High Intensity Drug Traffic Area) the Troopers received last year – and the money is starting to flow in to combat the problem. That and the huge pay increase the Trooper Union is receiving with the new State budget, we might actually see some improvement with these problems. Oh, and the grants that APD received to patrol the State highways – Glenn and Seward- that the Troopers can’t seem to get to because they’re tied up elsewhere.

    Can’t wait for Eagle Exit so we can get rid of APD, have the Troopers cover the area, and reduce property taxes.

  • No surprise that “little ethan” offered no comment. After all, it’s him, and his cronies, that have pushed Anchorage into being one of the most violent cities in America. A perfect example of what the dim/lib/socialists offer to America. I don’t think anyone should count on the feds offer to help fight crime to be accepted, except for the $$, as a solution to any of the problems that “little ethan” and cronies have brought upon the community, in the name of “social justice”. The fed funds will most likely be used for more dim “programs” to “fight social injustice”, not crime. Same for the State funding to “help” fight the crime dilemma. Just like the “sin taxes” that been forced on Anchorage citizens, under the guise of helping smokers and alcoholics “fight” their problem. The “sin taxes” are being used for everything but what they were espoused to be.
    Napoleon: “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap”.

    • Everything Democrats are in charge off becomes a disaster. That’s because all that the leaders care about is hiring more Democrats so they can elect more Democrats. Other outcomes are not the priority. More money for less value is actually fine, because then, obviously, we need to spend more money to hire more Democrats. K-12 and UA are examples.

  • Good to hear! Correction on the Mayor’s announcement—it was Coral Springs, FL, not Coral Gables. Definitely a difference. ( from someone who grew up in the Gables).

  • 7 of the 8 states are conservative/republican biased states. Sounds like they don’t know how to control crime

    • Reading comprehension is obviously not your strong suit. If it was you would have comprehended the part of Not being a sanctuary city.

    • Crime is a local issue, not a state one. To properly analyze it you have to get down to the County or Municipal level, where the crime actually happens.

      Also, you may have the causality reversed, it is possible that places with high crime rates may decide that “Blue State” policies are the cause and respond by voting “Rep.”

      Or maybe politics doesn’t cause individuals to choose to commit violent crimes unrelated to direct economic gain.

  • Congratulations, on securing funds and doing something. Unlike the trolls who appear only to whine and bitch. Thank you to your leadership in securing funds for the men and women in black. We can see the progress. We have avoided the school tragedies by proactive policing and inserting positive police role models in the schools. The Chester Creek cleanup , and trimming of the undergrowth appears to gradually making further progress in increasing trail use. You can’t fix a problem until you can recognize you have one. Once recognized you can go after resources. $$$ don’t fix a problem but are often a necessary element to make the fix work. Now fix it

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