by Nick P. Andrew Jr.
A state of emergency goes unnoticed in segments of rural Alaska, the lack of law enforcement is taking a toll on many communities on the outer periphery of the regional hub and core service area in the AVCP Region. Alcohol-related violence, preventable accidents, and death are far too common, and villagers are suffering in fear of those with little or no regard for others.
Statistics show that in villages served by a VPSO, serious injuries from assaults are 40% lower, proving that law enforcement presence is needed. AVCP, Inc., the regional non-profit tribal service provider that hires, trains, and pays the salaries of VPSO’s remains silent amidst this crisis. Yes, Governor Bill Walker, we are in desperate need of law and order.
•AVCP VPSO Program failing the 56-village consortium
•State of Alaska revenue sharing allocations failing small villages
Village without law enforcement are subject to: bootlegging, illegal prescription drug trafficking, homicide, domestic violence, violence against women, child abuse/neglect to name just a few. My village has horror stories, most of which are alcohol-related, and it is unacceptable. My village and many other lawless communities are totally reliant on the understaffed Alaska State Troopers.
“Alcohol-related” defines the scope of tragedy in villages without law enforcement. When an enraged intoxicated person starts shooting in the village, people are afraid and go into “lockdown” and fear the worst, mind you this nation is already disturbed by shooting violence. Violent repeat offenders must not be allowed to return to villages without police protection, this must be made part of the probation conditions. Women are at risk, children suffer, elders suffer, everyone lives on edge until arrests are made.
Violence in rural and remote Alaska is an on-going injustice, the Palin and Parnell administrations promised to end lawlessness in rural Alaska and failed. The online article posted by www.rcinet, “Gunfire in Alaska village delays governor’s visit,” during Governor Parnell’s 2012 visit to Kobuk, a man on a rampage opened fire at the village airport in the neighboring village of Ambler, another planned destination on his goodwill tour of the region. Parnell stated as he addressed the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce February 2012, “We can, as a state, end this epidemic of violence in one generation.” Lawlessness has affected too many small villages, enough empty promises, our people deserve results and long-term solutions.
One story must be told and retold until the state and federal government acknowledges that they are failing people who need it the most. My community and other second-class city governments lack the funding for police officers. President Trump’s recent State of the Union told of a prosperous proactive nation putting America first, yet for the isolated small Alaskan villages without law enforcement it’s a different story.
I am a deeply concerned tribal member and citizen of my community and region.
Nick P. Andrew Jr. is a resident of Marshall, Alaska.