April 5, 2022

Press Release: Governor Violates January Promise of 17 New Troopers; Got Headlines, Trooper Positions Then Disappeared

January and Subsequent Governor’s Budgets Provide Zero Funding for Falsely Promised 17 “New” Troopers

In January the Governor grabbed headlines for promising “seventeen new positions for State Troopers in Alaska.”  It was soon pointed out in blogs and elsewhere that his budget contained no funding for any new positions. Then the Governor claimed he would add what was needed in his next “Amended Budget”. 

“It’s April. The Governor Promised 17 new troopers to fill a fraction of Alaska’s public safety needs. As of today, he hasn’t proposed a penny to fund even one new Trooper.” 

“I believe in funding good police, but this Governor seems to believe in defunding them,” said Gara.

“It’s a pretty easy job for a Governor to grab election year headlines with false promises. He did that. It’s a harder job to govern honestly,” said Les Gara, a former legislator who called for more troopers and more prosecutors when he was a legislator.”

“As I said my whole legislative career, we can’t attract Troopers, police, teachers and others when we don’t offer the basic pension that’s offered in most other states. Without a fair, cost-effective pension, Troopers, teachers and others come to Alaska for a few years, vest in their 401(k) after five years, and then leave Alaska. We shouldn’t waste money paying to be a training ground for workers who then move away,” said Gara.

Gara has been a long proponent of a fair pension system for public employees, including Troopers, police, and teachers. He voted against the law ending pensions in 2006, and has called for, and co-sponsored legislation to bring back a pension system. “We should pass a cost-effective pension plan, which will save money by not requiring the constant, expensive recruitment and loss of new workers,” said Gara.

“It costs $20,000 every time we recruit and train a Trooper or teacher,” and having a system that causes turnover is more expensive than having a cost-effective pension system that would keep the best and brightest here in Alaska. 

Earlier this year Gara and Alaska Native Tribal leader Mike Williams Senior from Akiak called for law enforcement officer or Trooper in every community. “We have dozens of rural communities with no police at all, where it might take two days for a Trooper to fly in and help an assault or rape victim,” said Gara. That’s 19th Century policing.