U.S. Attorney General Declares Public Safety Emergency in Alaska, Frees Up $10.5 Million to Support Police

In blue, U.S. Attorney General William Barr walks the Napaskiak boardwalk with tribal administrator Sharon Williams, right, and others on Friday, May 31, 2019. Barr visited Bethel and Napaskiak to learn about law enforcement and public safety challenges in the region. (Marc Lester / ADN)
In blue, U.S. Attorney General William Barr walks the Napaskiak boardwalk with tribal administrator Sharon Williams, right, and others on Friday, May 31, 2019. Barr visited Bethel and Napaskiak to learn about law enforcement and public safety challenges in the region. (Marc Lester / ADN)

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr declared an emergency for public safety in rural Alaska on Friday and announced that the Department of Justice will provide more than $10 million in emergency funds as part of a sweeping plan to support law enforcement in Alaska Native villages.

The department’s Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program will immediately provide $6 million to the state to hire, equip and train rural police, and for mobile holding cells. Another $4.5 million will support 20 officer positions and be provided to Alaska Native organizations by the end of July.

The announcement comes a month after Barr visited Alaska during a multiday trip to hear concerns from Alaska Natives and rural residents about a lack of police in rural communities and high rates of sexual assault and family violence.

During a trip to a Western Alaska village in late May, Barr called the situation an “emergency” and vowed to do everything he could to help.

“In May, when I visited Alaska, I witnessed firsthand the complex, unique, and dire law enforcement challenges the state of Alaska and its remote Alaska Native communities are facing,” Barr said in a statement from the Department of Justice. “With this emergency declaration, I am directing resources where they are needed most and needed immediately, to support the local law enforcement response in Alaska Native communities, whose people are dealing with extremely high rates of violence.”

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SOURCE: Alex DeMarban  
Anchorage Daily News