U.S. Justice Department to send millions to rural Alaska law enforcement

U.S. Attorney General William Barr on July 23, 2019 in New York City. In May, he heard concerns from Alaska Native leaders about the lack of law enforcement and high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in rural Alaska. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday how it plans to spend millions of dollars of federal money promised by Attorney General William Barr to deal with public safety problems in rural communities.

After visiting Alaska in May, Barr declared a “law enforcement emergency” over the lack of access to basic protections for many rural Alaskans. The move frees up nearly $11 million in funding from federal law enforcement programs. Now, an anti-violence working group has decided where a portion of that money ought to go. The state will also get three new federal prosecutors who will be based in its Anchorage office but focused on rural Alaska.

Some of the money announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not yet have a designated target. $6 million was awarded to the state’s Department of Public Safety, which decided that the best way to address “domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes” is to give the money to local communities and tribal entities.

Starting October 1, groups can apply for funds that could go toward “infrastructure projects, such as holding cells.” There is a push for more recruitment and retention of rural law enforcement, including Village Police Officers and Tribal Police Officers.

Another $5 million is already earmarked. The U.S. Attorney’s Office included a list of tribal entities across the state set to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars for equipment and 20 new positions in total.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: National inquiry calls murders and disappearances of Indigenous women a ‘Canadian genocide’, CBC News

Finland: UN Committee blasts Finland over electorate ruling for Sami Parliament, Yle News

Sweden: Report sheds light on Swedish minority’s historic mistreatment, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Attorney General hears from Indigenous leaders about justice problems in rural Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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