Plans announced for new state Public Integrity Unit

Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards announced a plan for a new Public Integrity Unit aimed at improving trust in government.

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The unit would focus on shootings and other cases in which law enforcement officers use force, as well as death in jails and prisons, and allegations of corruption.

“Just in a post-Ferguson world, I think in general that the public side is increasingly looking to make sure that officer-involved shootings are scrutinized appropriately,” Richards said. “And we’re certainly aren’t suggesting that they aren’t now, this just ensures, with a criminal investigator, that Law has its own resources to do some independent investigation.”

Richards said the administration wants the public to know there’s an independent unit devoted to these issues.

The current budget for the Department of Law would pay for the unit. It would include two attorneys, a forensic auditor, an investigator, and a staff member.

The fate of the plan depends on how much money is included in the state budget. If the legislature cuts Governor Bill Walker’s budget proposal, state officials would decide whether they can afford the unit.