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Governor Dunleavy outlines new People First Initiative

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 4:51 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In a press conference Tuesday, December 14, Governor Mike Dunleavy outlined a new initiative designed to tackle social issues in Alaska.

The project, called the People First Initiative, focuses on 5 broad categories.

These include efforts to curb domestic violence and sexual assault, to which Dunleavy said, “We know that we have some of the highest sexual assault rates and domestic violence rates in the country, and this is something that, unfortunately, to some extent, we’ve kind of baked into our own psyche and our own culture here in Alaska, and it never should have happened. It never should have been that way.”

The administration proposes an Omnibus Crime Bill to help with the task. According to Alaska’s Attorney General Treg Taylor, “[One], it’s going to fill current gaps in our criminal loss. Two, it’s going to increase sentencing for targeted crimes such as sex assault, domestic violence and sex trafficking; and three, it’s going to help reduce the re-traumatization of victims and better protect victims of violent crime.”

The governor also discussed the effort to combat homelessness in the state. “We know that we’ve got a homeless problem in the state of Alaska. We know that we’ve got a chronic homeless problem in the state of Alaska.”

Dunleavy continued, “We’ll establish a statewide homelessness coordinator in the office of the governor to make sure that this is ramrodded and focused on, and gets the attention that it needs.”

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons will also receive attention from the initiative.

Kendra Kloster with Native Peoples Action spoke at the press conference, saying, “Murder is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women, and the rates of violence in rural areas can be up to 10 times the national average.”

Part of the effort to combat the crisis involves hiring more Alaska State Troopers and increasing the pay of Village Public Safety Officers.

Human and sex trafficking, and issues with foster care represent the remaining two categories addressed by the initiative.

According to Governor Dunleavy, the program would include a statewide database and management system. This would have an upfront cost of $750,000 and an annual operating cost of $250,000.

The full press conference can be found on the governor’s Facebook page.

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