The police state of Haines
May 14, 2020
In the draft budget based on a projected loss of sales tax revenue, an obvious reduction has been overlooked in the police department. While almost every department in the borough has taken a hit in the proposed budget, the police payroll has increased from $611,473 to $624,412. That is nearly 14% of the total payroll, up from just over 12% in 2015. The police budget expanded by over a hundred thousand dollars in the last five years, with the bulk of that going directly to personnel costs. Years of cuts throughout the rest of the borough has left us with a budget that is heavily skewed towards police.
The allocation of resources reflects our priorities, and the budgetary trends reveal a sinister truth. We spend proportionally less on education and health, even as vast sums are spent on police. For example, one in five workers in local health departments were laid off across the country between 2008 and 2017. We completely lost our public health nurse office, which could have been a pillar of support during this pandemic and would afford all of us a better life.
The State of Alaska reduced the number of troopers in Haines due to the low levels of crime in our community. In these difficult times, we can look hard to scrape what is left of our starving departments, or we can simply reduce the bloated one.