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Increase sought for safety budget

Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles is proposing adding $19 million to next year's state budget to strengthen public safety.

The governor's plan would add money for criminal justice, protection of children and seniors, and emergency response.

Knowles said Wednesday that Alaska's public protection systems have not kept pace with an increase in population and increased complexity of law enforcement.

''Despite a 9 percent increase in population, there are 12 fewer troopers today than in 1994. We need to reverse that trend,'' Knowles said.

Knowles' plan suggests spending $5.8 million to combat alcohol abuse, the single most important factor in violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse and other personal and property crimes.

The proposal suggests $8.5 million more for criminal justice needs, including 10 more state troopers, 10 more Fish and Wildlife Protection troopers, 20 more village public safety officers, and a constable program.

The governor also wants nine new juvenile probation officers, a second attorney to handle juvenile delinquency cases in Anchorage, and more treatment for youth with drug, alcohol, or mental health problems.

Knowles' budget includes $3.1 million for child and senior protection programs. That figure includes money to provide child protection workers with risk and safety assessment training.

Knowles wants more staff in the Office of Public Advocacy in Anchorage and Fairbanks to handle the increased caseload in Child In Need of Aid and guardian ad litem cases. The money also would cover licensing of assisted living homes and investigation of reports of harm.

Knowles also wants $1.6 million more for emergency services, including 24-hour staffing of a new state emergency response center; increased fire prevention training, education, and plan review services; and a cooperative avalanche safety and warning program.



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