August 10, 2021 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy today unveiled his plan to help law enforcement agencies investigate and remove sexual predators and violent offenders from the streets in Alaska, giving survivors of sexual assaults more control over their cases. Today’s announcement furthers a top priority of the Dunleavy Administration to combat the high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault across Alaska.
According to state law, anyone who is arrested and convicted for crimes against a person or a felony must provide DNA. Over the last 25 years, thousands of lawfully owed DNA samples were not collected in Alaska for various reasons. Governor Dunleavy has directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) to immediately collect 100% of the DNA owed in all authorized cases going forward and to collect DNA from another 20,022 offenders who owe the state a sample of their DNA under state law. To expedite the process, the governor has directed that funding immediately be focused to increase staffing and resources.
“Public safety has been the top priority for my administration since I took office and we can’t wait any longer to solve this problem,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Since the mid 1990’s, Alaska had been plagued with a growing stack of untested sexual assault kits that we diligently processed with the help of the Legislature over the last several years, and my administration has made significant progress in clearing the backlog and brought closure to survivors across the state.”
Governor Dunleavy has also directed the reduction of sexual assault kit testing and processing times to 90 days and is increasing funds to add more staff and resources to achieve that goal. DPS has cleared the backlog of previously unsubmitted, untested sexual assault kits from Alaska State Trooper cases and is nearing completion on untested sexual assault kits from all law enforcement agencies in Alaska. The governor’s plan includes the use of software and a tracking database to allow survivors and agencies involved in sexual assault response the ability to track the status and location of sexual assault evidence kits.
“Today’s announcement is a strong step forward in helping law enforcement agencies take violent offenders and sexual predators off the streets,” said Municipality of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson. “This plan will not only work to protect our city but will increase safety across the state. It is my hope that ramping up the collection of DNA and the tracking and testing of sexual assault kits will bring hope to victims and survivors across the Municipality of Anchorage, as well as our great state.”
“As a former sexual assault investigator, today’s plan will help in our efforts to solve more of these horrific crimes and bring closure to the survivors,” said Chief Kenneth McCoy with the Anchorage Police Department. “I’m pleased our officers have already started collecting DNA samples, if warranted, at the time of arrest. It’s something we proactively started last year. I want to thank Governor Dunleavy for taking this bold action to help us hold offenders accountable.”
Governor Mike Dunleavy’s Omnibus Crime Bill, HB 49, was passed and signed into law seven months after he took office. The legislation repealed and replaced SB 91, and enacted timeframes for submission and testing. The law now requires that law enforcement notify the victims from which a kit was collected, that testing has been completed.
“The Department of Public Safety will continue to make concerted efforts with our law enforcement partners to bring consistency and high standards to law enforcement’s response to sexual assault reports and to provide victims and survivors with the support, resources and understanding they deserve,” said DPS Commissioner Jim Cockrell.
“The Department of Corrections has been collecting DNA for years. Due to the Governor’s initiative, DOC recently collected 197 owed DNA samples from past convictions in a 2-day sweep from those currently incarcerated,” said DOC Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom. “My team is prepared to help the state close this gap of owed DNA and work towards ensuring all statutorily authorized samples are collected in the future.”
Governor Dunleavy will request the legislature appropriate $1.1 million of ARPA funds for this initiative, to be used in conjunction with $900,000 in existing Department of Public Safety funding for necessary resources. He also intends to introduce legislation next session to directly address sexual assaults and violent offenses.
Click here for the Department of Public Safety’s Combined SNA Index System (CODIS) Report.
Click here for Frequently Asked Questions on the DNA Collection and Sexual Assault Kit testing directives.