It’s not just anecdotal. Alaska has, in fact, become less safe, according to 2016 statistics released by the FBI this week.
At a Monday town hall meeting in Anchorage hosted by Rep. Charisse Millett, about 100 people came from all over the city — not just District 25 — to voice their concerns about the rise in crime. Some shouted, some screamed, some cried, and others held forth with specific criticisms and recommendations for several minutes until told by their fellow attendees to sit down.
Millett put no time limit on speakers, but they self-policed.
“It was the most emotionally charged town hall we’ve seen in a long time. People just needed to be heard, and we were there to listen,” Millett said.
They were not emotional without reason. According to the FBI:
- Property crime rose in Alaska 18.9 percent last year — the largest increase nationwide, according to the FBI report.
- Auto theft in Alaska jumped 48.6 percent, the nation’s largest year-over-year change.
- Violent crime in Alaska rose 10 percent. Robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, and car theft also rose.
- Sexual assault jumped by 16 percent in 2016.
Nationwide, property crime dropped 2 percent, violent crime rose 3.2 percent, auto theft rose 6.6 percent, and sexual assault rose just under 4 percent.
In addition to Millett, lawmakers in attendance at the Abbott Loop Elementary School town hall included Reps. Chris Birch, Andy Josephson, and Dan Saddler, Sen. Kevin Meyer and Anchorage mayoral candidate Rebecca Logan.
For some, it was a chance to voice their concerns face to face with lawmakers and law enforcement.
Many blamed SB 91 for the rise in crime, although defenders of the legislation said that crime was already going up under Gov. Bill Walker before he signed SB 91 into law.