Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses the graduating class of the Alaska Law Enforcement Training program (ALET 22-2) in the Sitka Performing Arts Center on November 18, 2022. He told the 43 cadets that “What is going to make make you different than the average Alaskan, the average person, is that you’re going to be put into situations almost on a daily basis in which your judgment is going to be tested. And more importantly, your character is going to be tested.” (DPS image capture)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy told the graduating class of the Alaska Public Safety Academy in Sitka that “he had their backs” and that both he and the legislature were committed to providing law enforcement with all the resources needed “to do the job the right way.”

Gov. Dunleavy was the keynote speaker for graduation ceremonies held in Sitka on Friday, November 18. The same day, the Alaska Division of Elections posted new totals for absentee and early ballots, which looked very likely to give Dunleavy the 50-percent of votes needed to win reelection to the office for another four years.

In the following excerpt of his keynote remarks, Dunleavy sounded more ideological than he had during the last days of the election campaign, and very much like an incumbent returning for another term, with solid support from voters.

“And I just want you to know that I’ll always have your back. The State of Alaska, I view is different than the rest of the United States. We haven’t had any shootings or lootings or burnings when the rest of the lower 48 and some of our major cities were going through that, what I consider to be nonsense. There’s no discussion about defunding the police here in the state of Alaska, by virtually anyone, because we understand the importance that public safety provides. In essence, you provide for us the ability to live the lives that we have, in the freest country on the face of the Earth, and what I consider to be one of the freest — if not the freest — states on the face of the Earth. We know that if we get into a bind, you’re there. We know that if there’s a search and rescue issue, that needs your help, you’ll be there. We know that in dangerous situations, you’ll be there, whether it’s with other other folks or wildlife, we know that you’re there.”

That was Gov. Mike Dunleavy, addressing the latest class of the 17-week Alaska Law Enforcement Training Academy in Sitka (ALET 22-2). A total of 43 cadets received their badges, and will now enter the field as state troopers, wildlife enforcement officers, police officers, and village public safety officers.

Editor’s Note: Gov. Dunleavy’s remarks to ALET graduates merits a quick fact check, since Alaska’s budget problems over the last four years have forced compromises that don’t really resonate during a graduation ceremony speech. True, the legislature and Gov. Dunleavy gave state law enforcement a significant boost in funding during the last session, but in leaner years, Gov. Dunleavy has moved funding out of the badly-needed Village Public Safety Officer program. Even with adequate funding, vacancies for VPSOs have been difficult to fill with qualified officers and Troopers remain understaffed. And while Alaska has been spared the worst of the mass shootings that generate headlines in the Lower 48, the more-common, less-publicized multiple homicides have occurred in the state. Also true, while social movements in the state in support of causes like Black Lives Matter have been comparatively peaceful, the CDC reports that Alaska is among the states with the highest firearm mortality per capita.