The director of the Alaska State Troopers, James Cockrell, says Anchorage should take responsibility for policing its own boundaries, which run from south of Portage to north of Eklutna. But Anchorage city attorney Bill Falsey says local law won't allow that.
Traffic was light as motorists traveled along the Seward Highway south off McHugh Creek on Tuesday. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
Troopers have historically patrolled the Seward Highway south of McHugh Creek and up to the entrance of Turnagain Pass, working overtime when they've had to. That's set to go away in early 2017, as budget cuts have pushed the troopers to a "breaking point," Cockrell said Tuesday.
Three Bureau of Highway Patrol officers from the Troopers will still be assigned to the Seward Highway. Their goal will be about 10 hours of patrolling per day, Cockrell said Tuesday.
But when the Highway Patrol punches off shift, there will no longer be an on-call highway cop to respond to crashes, Cockrell said.
It's a really, really bad idea.
There's only one highway that leads into and out of Anchorage. One. It runs north and south at this point. What the dueling police agencies are now telling residents, vacationers, tourists, and fishermen is that when there's an accident, they'll just shut the highway down. You can camp in your car! It'll be fun! Yay!
Things are no better in the City of Anchorage itself. Police have all but stopped responding to routine calls, and - by their own admission - some 911 calls go unanswered. It's a battle over the budget, staffing levels, and attrition.
The losers, of course, are the public.
It comes down to what we've all been saying for some time: you really are on your own, so you'd best be prepared for emergencies. You'll need blankets, any required medications, food, and water in your vehicle.
And yes, Virginia, that includes having and knowing how to use a firearm.