Gov. Dunleavy told the graduates and their families that he planned to attend every ALET graduation ceremony while serving as governor. (Photo/Governor’s Office, Austin McDaniel)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday (11-15-19) attended graduation ceremonies of the Alaska Law Enforcement Training Academy in Sitka.

Dunleavy referred to the new troopers and police officers as “Alaska’s warriors,” and told them that his administration and the legislature had their backs.

It was the first time any state governor in recent memory had attended the academy’s graduation ceremonies.

Trainees marching in…

Over the course of their 16 weeks of training, cadets at the Alaska Law Enforcement Training Academy — called “ALET” — in Sitka divide their time between classes and physical training. The last time they’ll have to march anywhere is to this ceremony at Sitka’s Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi.

Lt. Chad Goeden is commanding officer at the academy. He told the 26 members of ALET 1902 that this was an extraordinary day.

This is my 18th graduation ceremony, not counting my own 25 years ago next month when I graduated from this academy. We have scoured our collective memories, and this is the first time we ever remember a governor coming to our graduation ceremony. So Governor, as the commander of the academy, as an Alaska State Trooper, and as a citizen of this state, I want to personally thank you for taking time out of your schedule to come and honor these men and women who are going forward and leading the charge. We sincerely appreciate that. (Applause)

But the governor’s surprise visit was not meant to be a one-off. Taking the podium, Gov. Dunleavy set aside his prepared remarks and said that he planned to attend every graduation during his term.

“You all have my commitment as family members that I have no intention of politicizing what these folks do,” he said. “I have no intention of letting them down. And I’m going to do everything I can to get the resources necessary for them to do their jobs well protecting Alaska.”

What those resources are was a source of contention in the last legislature. The governor last February proposed a decrease of about $3 million in funding to the Department of Public Safety, but he ended up signing an increase of almost $4 million. Troopers and wildlife troopers got a boost, but there were cuts to the Village Public Safety Officer program.

DPS Commissioner Amanda Price (at right) stands with Gov. Dunleavy and troopers outside Sitka’s Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi. Academy commander Lt. Chad Goeden said that everyone had “scoured our collective memories” and no one could recall a governor’s attending ALET graduation ceremonies before. (Photo/ Governor’s Office, Austin McDaniel)

Gov. Dunleavy nevertheless told graduates that he has admired the work of law enforcement since he was a boy growing up in Pennsylvania, and that their work was highly valued.

“I know that at times we’ve fallen on some budgetary issues,” Dunleavy said. “But this is one of the most important jobs that anyone can have in government. The purpose of government, which started thousands of years ago, was to protect people, was public safety. What you have here is an extension of what’s happened for thousands of years. These are our heroes. These are our warriors.”

Dunleavy was accompanied to the Sitka graduation by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price, who also addressed graduates, Deputy Commissioner Leon Morgan, and Col. Barry Wilson, director of the Alaska State Troopers. A number of police chiefs from around the state also attended, along with Sitka police chief Robert Baty, Sitka mayor Gary Paxton, and Sen. Bert Stedman.