Alaska police chiefs warn that they’ll need new gravy train

Alaska police chiefs say legalizing marijuana will increase funding, training needs

Police administrators across Alaska worry that marijuana legalization could mean increased costs for their departments, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police.

AACOP estimates the cost of legalizing marijuana could mean $6 million in unanticipated costs for law enforcement in Alaska if the initiative passes this year. The association says much of those costs account for what they believe will be an increase in drug use, specifically among teens and impaired drivers.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, but apparently the idea is that although marijuana is currently widely used and is illegal, and they obviously expend significant resources enforcing it now, with legalization, they’ll have to work harder in order to find ways to continue to arrest people for it.

Laren Zager, Fairbanks chief of police, said legalization would mean most of his 32 patrol and traffic officers will likely have to be trained in the drug recognition expert program as well. Zager estimates that only four officers have the training currently. He said while the number of officers receiving that training has increased in recent years, marijuana legalization would “jet engine” that process.

Zager said his police department will happily carry out whatever becomes law but said this particular initiative is worth a second look.

“(Legalization) carries with it certain social hazards,” Zager said. “Most officers find it alarming.”

Sure they do.

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