Federal agencies and Alaskans are working together to address the public safety crisis in rural Alaska.

Millions of dollars are now available for critical law enforcement needs in rural areas all across Alaska.

The effort started this summer when U.S. Attorney General William Barr came to Alaska to personally examine the public safety situation in the vast rural areas of the state.

The attorney general authorized funding and long-term measures to support village public safety and victim services.

A working group called Rural Alaska Anti-Violence Enforcement — or RAAVEN — was made to focus on building the capacities of federal, state and tribal law enforcement in rural Alaska.

U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder formed the group. He says its focus is to make a plan to keep making changes so the progress doesn't stop:

"If you don't know where you're going it's hard to get there, so that’s one of the things we’re working hard on is trying to put together a vision for what public safety looks like in rural Alaska, talking to the police officers, talking to Alaska Natives because obviously it's their world and they have to have a huge input into what that looks like. And then come up with some ideas of what that public safety structure should look like so we can then fill in with resources."

 

The group so far has helped coordinate the law enforcement and prosecution resources provided by Barr, including a $6 million Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance grant, according to a Friday news release from Schroder’s office.

The release also says the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services awarded nearly $5 million through the Tribal Resources Grant Program for the hiring, equipping and training of Village Public Officers and Tribal Police Officers working in rural Alaska.

Schroder says this has been and will continue to be a joint effort as the agencies work together for change.

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