A little more law and order could be coming to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta if the legislature gives the nod to the Governor's budget. On Friday, Governor Bill Walker released a three-part budget plan that prioritizes public safety and includes funding for both an additional prosecutor and State Trooper investigator in Bethel.
This time last year, there were eight Village Public Safety Officers across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Now there are nine, and one more is undergoing a background check as part of the application process. The region contains 56 tribes, and many don’t have any law enforcement at all.
Public safety is a leading issue across Alaska, and in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, it has been voted the region’s top issue by delegates attending the Association of Village Council Presidents' annual convention. After the convention adjourned last Thursday, Alaska’s three gubernatorial campaigns presented their solutions on the topic.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy's state-of-the-state speech on January 22 hit on key themes from his 2018 campaign. In the speech, he vowed to protect the Permanent Fund Dividend and repeal Senate Bill 91, an attempt to reform criminal justice reform that became law three years ago during the Walker administration. Gov. Dunleavy said that he is making public safety at top priority.
House District 38 Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat representing most of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, said that she was encouraged by Dunleavy's speech, but still has some concerns.