Being the United States attorney for the district of Alaska has been the greatest honor of my professional career and the most satisfying job in my life. My last day is Feb. 28, and as it approaches, I write to thank the people of this great state for the opportunity to serve them.
In my experience, a great job is defined by the people. In this case, three groups. First are the women and men of the United States Attorney’s Office. You will not find a smarter and more dedicated group of attorneys and support staff anywhere. This office faces a wide range of complex legal issues in protecting the people of the state and resources of the United States. Our staff tackles these issues enthusiastically, ethically, and professionally. They make me smarter every day, and I will miss the daily interactions with all of them. I’m proud that I am leaving the office even stronger than when I started. In March of 2017, when I originally became the acting U.S. attorney, we had 27 attorneys. Now, in recognition of their hard work, the Department of Justice has increased our staff to 33 attorneys, including 23 criminal prosecutors.
The second group of people that I want to thank are our state’s law enforcement professionals, federal, state, local and tribal. Working together is a way of life in Alaska, and the level of cooperation between law enforcement agencies is as great or greater than anywhere in the country. The people of the state are well served because their law enforcement officers work together. I ask you to remember that police officers put their lives on the line every day. Every year, I attend the recognition of our state’s fallen officers at the Alaska Police Memorial and am humbled to honor their sacrifice. We also need to remember the thousands of daily interactions that law enforcement officers have with the public in our state. The professionalism and caring they show in those contacts, helping people often having the most difficult times in their lives, is the essence of public safety and public service.
Finally, I thank the people of the state. In the end, any law enforcement job is about protecting your neighbors. When I became the United States Attorney four years ago, Alaska had the highest level of violent crime in the country. We committed to working with our partners to tackle the problem, and we have taken on the issues of felons carrying firearms, car theft and drug distribution, all crimes that lead to violence in our community. The result is that we have started to see a reduction in violent crime.
Then, in 2019, we added rural Alaska to our focus. When Attorney General William Barr visited Alaska that year, he recognized the need to improve how we protect the people in remote parts the state, largely Alaska Natives. In recent months, we have also worked with a coalition of partners including tribal groups, victim services organizations, and law enforcement agencies to take on the important issue of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Persons. We have much more work to do in rural Alaska, but we are on a better path.
Starting on Monday, March 1, Bryan Wilson, who has served the last four years as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, will become the acting United States attorney. He is a seasoned lawyer and experienced leader, supported by an outstanding staff. I leave the office, and the state, in good hands. While I will miss being the United States Attorney, I look forward to my next opportunity to serve the people of Alaska.
• Bryan Schroder is the outgoing United States attorney for the district of Alaska.