Murders in Alaska spike 67% in 2022

Overall crime declined slightly, according to latest report
Murders in Alaska spike 67% in 2022
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 10:38 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Public Safety released its most recent statewide crime statistics and the numbers show there were 70 murders in the state in 2022, compared to 42 in 2021, an increase of 67%.

The department also reported that overall criminal offenses declined 1.6% in 2022 compared to the year before.

The new crime numbers are included in the Department of Public Safety’s annual Crime in Alaska Report.

The 70 total murders reported in 2022 tied the single-year high over the last five years in 2019.

The report shows while overall crime decreased slightly, reported violent crimes increased slightly in 2022, up 1.6% compared to 2021.

Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bryan Barlow says the murder numbers are concerning, but that other crime statistics are trending in a good direction.

“In general, there were many areas of decline — overall crime,” Barlow said. “I think property crime saw a decline of 2.7%, which is a trend we’ve been seeing since 2018. And even major crimes like sexual assault, I think that was down just shy of 6%, which is a great — that’s a great thing to see. However, there’s still a ton of work to do, obviously.”

Reports of robbery dropped 3.8%, while reported aggravated assaults rose 4.1%. An aggravated assault is defined as an assault with the intent of inflicting severe harm upon another person.

The Department of Public Safety also issued a companion report focusing on Felony Sex Offenses. The report on sexual offenses uses Alaska-specific crime definitions, rather than the FBI national definitions used in the overall crime report.

That number indicates reported felony-level sex offenses dropped 7.1% in 2022, compared to 2021.

Digging deeper into the sex offense data reveals another startling statistic — 50.7% of the victims of felony sex crimes were Alaska Native or American Indian women.

It also reports that 59.3% of victims were juveniles, or those under 18.

The median age of female victims of felony sex offenses was 16. The median age of male victims was 12.

Barlow says one particularly encouraging statistic comes from Western Alaska.

“The decline in the rate of sexual assaults, particularly [if] you look at Western Alaska, where we spoke about the dramatically high rates that we’ve seen historically, they’re just over 36% reduction,” Barlow noted.

He says overall, the crime numbers — other than the increase this year in homicides — have been heading in a generally positive direction over the past five years.

“That increase in homicides, the decrease to assault, sexual assaults — those are noteworthy,” Barlow said. “I think that when you look through the Alaska State Troopers, the Department of Public Safety’s area of responsibility, though — whether you’re talking about overall crime, talking about property crimes, or other violent crimes — you’ve seen an overall trend of decline since 2018.”

The annual crime report compiles information from every police agency in the state and is part of the nationwide Uniform Crime Reporting program.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.