Alaska Congressional Delegation welcome DOJ Declaration of Law Enforcement Emergency in Rural Alaska

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today (June 28th, 2019) welcomed the Department of Justice’s Announcement that Attorney General Barr will declare a law enforcement emergency in rural Alaska under the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program today.

Immediately following his announcement, $6 million was made available to the state of Alaska to support critical law enforcement needs of Alaska Native villages. In addition, the Attorney General will authorize additional funding to invest in victim services and village public safety. In total, the Attorney General will invest over $10 million in rural communities across the state.

“Around a month ago I had the opportunity to host Attorney General Barr in Bethel and Napaskiak so that he could see and to hear firsthand the challenges faced by Alaskans living in remote communities that are grappling with this public safety crisis. Today’s announcement shows that Attorney General Barr not only saw and heard Alaskans concerns but that he felt them in his heart.” said Senator Murkowski. “The announcement that came out of the Department of Justice today will direct more resources towards rural Alaska to increase the training and hiring of public safety officers, assist advocacy centers, improve victim services, and invest in many other much needed initiatives. This emergency declaration is a significant first step in creating a safer, more secure Alaska for everyone that calls it home. I appreciate the urgency that the Attorney General is placing on Alaska and our public safety situation and I look forward to working with him to further identify and implement lasting, systemic solutions to rural public safety and wellness in coordination with the Department of Justice.”

“I want to thank Attorney General Barr and his team for not only coming to my state to hear from Alaskans about our public safety and law enforcement challenges, but for quickly taking concrete actions to help provide protections to Alaskans that most other Americans take for granted,” said Senator Sullivan. “As Alaskans know, we have a public safety crisis in our state, in both rural and urban areas. The statistics, particularly related to sexual assault and child abuse, are horrifying. But statistics don’t tell the full story. The full story comes from the people themselves—stories of heartbreak, and suffering, and wrecked lives. In extensive roundtables with federal, state and local law enforcement, victims’ rights groups, and community leaders in Anchorage, as well as in his travels to rural Alaska, General Barr and his team listened. This announcement indicates that he, and the Justice Department, are committed to helping the people in Alaska who need it the most.”

“Alaskans know that our state’s vast geography presents unique challenges, especially for law enforcement in rural areas. The remoteness of countless communities – including Native villages – makes crime prevention and prosecution particularly difficult. Alaskans deserve peace of mind, and too many families are witnessing surging levels of crime in their once safe communities. Horrifying stories of homicide, sexual assault, and other violent crimes have recently made headlines, and we must be doing all that we can to bring perpetrators to justice,” said Congressman Young. “The declaration of a law enforcement emergency and the $6 million in federal funding that comes with it is welcome news not only for the families that have been victims of crime, but also for the children of Alaska who deserve to grow up in neighborhoods that are safe and secure. Attorney General Barr has been and continues to be an important partner for Alaska as we work to turn the tide in the fight against rising crime rates, and I am grateful for his ongoing support. I will continue working with the delegation to ensure that Alaska’s law enforcement agencies have the tools and resources they need to keep Alaskans safe.”

“This declaration of a law enforcement emergency in rural Alaska is unprecedented, and significant news showing positive change for public safety in Alaska Native villages. AVCP has asked for protection and safety of our families and tribal communities, and Attorney General William Barr has heard us. We are not asking for anything less or anything more than any other community in Alaska or the United States. We thank Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Congressman Young for their leadership in advocating for rural Alaska,” said Vivian Korthuis, CEO for the Association of Village Council Presidents.

“The Alaska delegation and AG Barr have seen firsthand the public safety crisis in rural Alaska and today have honored the requests from tribal leaders who seek to create safe and healthy communities. This funding is greatly appreciated and will be used to expand law enforcement and enhance public safety, creating safer environments for our women and children in our rural communities,” said Victor Joseph, Chief/Chairman of the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

ANNOUNCEMENT HIGHLIGHTS:

·TPOs, VPOs, VPSOs: Directs $6 million in emergency funding for the hiring, equipping, and training of Tribal Police Officers (TPOs), Village Police Officers (VPOs), and Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) and for mobile detention facilities.

·Child Advocacy Centers (CAC): Provides support for CACs in rural Alaska’s hubs. CACs provide safe, child-friendly locations for Child Protective Services investigators and law enforcement to conduct interviews with children who are suspected or known to be victims of crimes. $14 million in funding is available to support CACs in Alaska and the lower 48 states.

·Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN): Includes $162,000 of additional funding is available to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to establish an additional Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) target site including rural Alaska.

·Rural Alaska Violent Crime Reduction Working Group: Establishes a working group, to be led by U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder, which will look for ways to build the capacity of federal, state, and tribal law enforcement in rural Alaska with an emphasis on crimes of domestic violence and crimes against children.

·Sexual Assault Training: issue an award for sexual assault training and technical assistance in Alaska. This includes training for community health aides in rural villages to perform sexual assault forensic exams, training for victim advocates, and training for village-based victim advocates, including prosecution, when warranted.

·Crime Victim Tribal set-aside: Extends the OVC application deadline for the Crime Victim Fund tribal set-aside solicitation to Aug. 16, 2019. Funding may be used rape crisis services, children advocacy programs, domestic violence shelters, and elder abuse programs, among other initiatives.

·Mental Health, Addiction, Crime: Extends the BJA application deadline for funding to support programs that address mental health issues, reentry initiatives, drug addiction, and community crime reduction.

·Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS):

•Includes $4.5 million in funding from COPS to provide 20 new officer positions, including training and equipment, to Alaska Native grantees by the end of July.

•Reopens the Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) grant program to select state law enforcement agencies in states with high rates of seizing methamphetamines and raiding laboratories.

•Reopens the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force (AHTF) Program to select state law enforcement agencies with in states with high rates, per capita, of primary treatment admissions.

The Attorney General also directed all Justice Department component leaders to submit a plan in the next thirty days with additional suggestions to support rural Alaska’s most pressing law enforcement and public safety needs.

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