This week Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy took another step to protect Alaskans by submitting two new pieces of legislation to promote safe communities and support law enforcement. The bills will ensure all law enforcement officers meet the highest standards, and crack down on sex traffickers by establishing longer prison sentences while protecting victims.
“Public safety is my number one priority as governor, these bills reflect my administration’s determination to protect Alaskans, support all of Alaska’s law enforcement, and promote safe communities,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Current laws do not provide sufficient protections for victims of sex trafficking, and it is time to implement a comprehensive approach to combatting this crime.”
Police Standards Legislation (SB 164 / HB 224):
This legislation will mandate that all candidates for law enforcement meet the highest standards for employment as police and village police officers throughout Alaska.
- Prevents anyone convicted of a felony, a sex offense or a crime involving domestic violence from being appointed as a police or village police officer
- Empowers the Alaska Police Standards Council to set employment standards for village police officers by regulation and to investigate when there is reason to believe an officer or a village police officer does not meet minimum standards for employment.
- Includes a definition of a village police officer
“Alaskans deserve to be safe and feel safe. Alaskans should be able to rely on a consistent minimum standard to hold all of our law enforcement officers to,” said Commissioner Amanda Price, Department of Public Safety. “We view this as essential. It is a fundamental right to feel secure and to be able to trust those with such significant authority and responsibility, whether it be a Village Police Officer hired in a remote community or a police officer working for a more urban department.”
Sex Trafficking and Human Trafficking (SB 165 / HB 225):
The legislation strengthens Alaska’s human trafficking and sex trafficking statutes to better address the changing nature of how these offenses are committed to provide more protection to underage victims.
- Penalties for all forms of trafficking will be higher, leaving the most serious classification for those who use force or traffic an underage person
- Sex trafficking of all degrees will become a sex offense with increased penalties and a requirement to register to the state’s sex offender registry list
- Establishes the new crime of “patron of a victim of sex trafficking,” to punish individuals responsible for the demand, specifically underage victims of sex trafficking
- Creates a new legal mechanism by which a person who has been convicted of prostitution can get that conviction vacated if they were a victim of sex trafficking at the time of the prostitution offense. Traffickers are known to control their victims by telling them they can be charged with prostitution
“The Department of Law is committed to preventing labor and sex-trafficking crimes. We are committed to prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and educating Alaskans about this important issue,” said Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson.
To report suspected human trafficking, you can call the Alaska State Troopers at 907-375-6409 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text “help” to BeFree (233733). For general information about human trafficking in Alaska, please contact the Department of Law at (907) 269-5100.