ADN & ProPublica Investigate Shocking Lack Of Police Protection In Bush Alaska Villages

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING IN RURAL ALASKA  The State Promised More Manpower, But Has Never Delivered  Local People Are Forced To Hide Or Even ...

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING IN RURAL ALASKA 

The State Promised More Manpower, But Has Never Delivered 


Local People Are Forced To Hide Or Even Apprehend Their Violent Neighbors In Poorly-Protected Rural Villages 

Governor Mike Dunleavy spoke to the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) on December 13th, 2021. He brought up a recurring theme popular as a talking point for Alaska's governors and politicians: stamping out domestic violence and increasing public safety. 

The Governor told the largest body of Alaska Natives that his goal "is to continue to beef up the number of Troopers in rural Alaska to combat longstanding safety issues." 

He also talked of a "Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team." 

PAST POLITICIANS & THEIR PLANS
Domestic violence and sexual abuse have long been an Alaska political theme. Dunleavy is certainly not the first Alaska governor, or politician, to say he's going to do something about the longstanding and dangerous issue. 

Here's a brief rundown of some of the various Alaskan politicians who have made similar announcements, going back almost 20 years, as compiled by the Copper River Country Journal:

PROMISES MADE THROUGH THE YEARS

1995:
GOVERNOR KNOWLES PROMISES SAFETY
In 1995, Governor Tony Knowles championed a Domestic Violence Prevention Act. In an impassioned plea, he promised the public — just a few days after Christmas – that the Department of Public Safety would finally do something about the problem. Knowles told the public that Alaskan women were murdered at 1.5 times the national rate. He said that Alaskan Native women were murdered at 4.5 times the national rate. And that 80% of all murders handled by the Alaska State Troopers were due to domestic violence. And yet the problem continued. 

1997:
L.T. GOVERNOR FRAN ULMER FORMS “CHILDRENS CABINET”
Two years later, in 1997, citing the fact that Alaska lead the nation in per-person sexual abuse and neglect cases, with over 3,500 abused Alaskan children every year, Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer announced the state would do something about it. She told the Kenai Chamber in April that Governor Tony Knowles had formed a “Children’s Cabinet” to address the abuse issues of children. But — the problem went on.

2009:
GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN EXPANDS SEXUAL ASSAULT BILL
In 2009, twelve years ago, Governor Sarah Palin signed legislation expanding the Council on Demestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The bill added a rural representative to the council. “Together we can stand for what’s right and end abuse in Alaska,” Governor Palin said. And nothing changed.

2009:
GOVERNOR SEAN PARNELL STARTS “CHOOSE RESPECT”
It was a few months later when Governor Sean Parnell, vowed, just before Christmas in 2009, to end the epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence… within a decade. (Or by 2019). His 10-year plan focused on putting abusers behind bars, protecting victims, helping them recover… and preventing abuse. The plan was to work with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault to kick of a “Choose Respect” campaign. He also said he would hire 15 Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) for the next ten years to help the Troopers. Parnell said he'd increase pro bono (free) legal services to victims, and toughen plea deals. He also said he’d increase funding for shelters, and bring in a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention coordinator. 
By this point, there had been quite a few failed efforts already. And statistics hadn't changed much over the years. Alaska was still the most family-violent state in America.

2013:
MURKOWSKI AND BEGICH INTRODUCE "SAFE FAMILIES" ACT
In 2013, eight years ago, U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski jointly introduced a Safe Families and Villages Act that would give Alaska villages more power to fight drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. “We must make sure that Alaskans have the tools they need to feel safe in their communities, especially women and children,” said Senator Begich. Murkowski said: “We must turn the tide of the rates of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse in our state.” That year, as Alaska Native News noted, more than 95% of all rural Alaska crimes were attributed to alcohol. Alcohol-related suicide rates in the villages was 6 times the national average. 1 of 2 Alaska Native women experienced physical or sexual violence — and more Alaska Native women were raped than any other population group in America. 

2019:
SULLIVAN INTRODUCES NATIONAL BILL
Senator Dan Sullivan introduced a bipartisan national bill to spread awareness and seek to change the culture around sexual assault and domestic violence through a major advertising campaign. 

2019:
WILLIAM BARR & MURKOWSKI WORK TOGETHER 
In April 2019, in a highly publicized event, Senator Lisa Murkowski took then-U.S. attorney general William Barr to Western Alaska. Barr declared the public safety problem in bush Alaska "a federal emergency."  According to the Daily News, the Justice Department then gave the state $6 million to help solve the problem. The Daily News reported that less than $100,000 of that amount has been approved for reimbursement to villages. 

2019:
DUNLEAVY AT AFN
At the fall 2019 AFN Convention, Governor Mike Dunleavy came up with a spending plan to place 15 Troopers in Bush communities. 


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STILL DIRE
...AS SHOWN IN ADN/PROPUBLICA INVESTIGATION 

An extraordinary December 13th, 2021 investigative story about bush villages throughout Alaska documents the dramatically dangerous lack of adequate law enforcement in Alaska's rural villages.

The story was by Kyle Hopkins, working with the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) and ProPublica. It shows the deficiencies of law enforcement in numerous villages throughout the state, and chronicles in harrowing detail the brutal crimes that have been going on, unattended by proper levels of law enforcement. 

These include Troopers not arriving for a week to investigate a child kidnapping at Russian Mission, in which a child was reported clubbed in the head, bound with duct tape, sexually abused and kidnapped. 

The story talks of the problems of finding people willing to work in village law enforcement. 

And how local criminals hold their neighbors hostage, attacking them with steel pipes, bats and batons. 

In some cases, locals have to try to apprehend the criminals in their midst on their own.


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