Alaska Natives, regulation enforcement companies reaffirm partnership towards the general public security disaster
Alaska's public safety crisis, particularly in rural villages, is not news to the people living there.
However, with Attorney General William Barr's 2019 declaration of a nationwide law enforcement emergency, plans are being drawn up and reconsidered to address this issue. At this year's Alaska Federation of Natives Congress, a digital panel was held on how Alaskans can work with partners to help solve this massive and long-standing problem.
“Rural Alaska has been hit by both a pandemic and a public safety crisis. We need to recognize that rural Alaska is experiencing double emergencies, ”Vivian Korthuis, CEO of the Association of Village Council Presidents, said during the panel. "In many regions of our villages across the state, we appear to have a hand tied behind our backs because of the public health crisis."
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Korthuis referred to the Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment Act, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murskowski about a year ago and most recently referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs as a way forward.
“We know this model works in healthcare. We know it can work in providing public safety, ”said Korthuis. “We know that every region is different in slightly different ways. But we are the same in terms of values and relationships with our families. "
Korthuis said three conditions must be met in order to overcome the crisis: permanent direct uncompetitive core funding, recognition of the authority of the tribal government, and expansion of partnerships at the federal, state and tribal levels.
“My advice is to listen to the tribes and tribal organizations. We know what works in our villages. The ingredients for success have already been identified by the tribes, ”said Korthuis. "We ask no less or more than any other church in the United States."
A number of partners with Alaskan tribes also reiterated their continued support for the well-being and safety of citizens.
"I believe the Justice Department is here to serve each and every citizen," Barr said in a recorded address. "Asking basic physical security isn't asking too much."
US attorney Bryan Schroeder highlighted the work the Bureau of Indian Affairs had done to set up its office for missing and murdered indigenous people in Anchorage. The office, which is part of a task force seeking justice for Alaskan Natives and Indians who suffer from much higher rates of violence and enforced disappearances than the national average, is one of several offices opened as part of a statewide federal effort said Schroeder.
Schröder also discussed developing plans on which tribal authorities can base their own response plans in the event of missing or murdered tribal citizens. The plans are based on a range of scenarios, from rural communities with their own police stations to rural communities with no law enforcement presence. The DOJ is still trying to improve the models before they are more widely used.
"If you have a missing or murdered person in your community, you can go to the plan," said Schröder. "We are looking for partners to work with the working group to refine these models before widespread use."
Rob Britt, the FBI agent in charge of the Anchorage Field Office, also spoke about the differences between Alaska and the Lower 48, the FBI's willingness to help in any way its mandate allows, and the technical assistance that they might offer.
“All agencies understand that responsibility is complicated. We work together in the best interests of the people we serve, ”said Britt. “In addition to providing technical support, the FBI works with law enforcement agencies across the state to help fight violent crime. We know that collaboration is key to making the most of our limited resources. "
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.