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Justice department pledges $10.5M in emergency funds for public safety
was written by Krysti Shallenberger, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Bethel , 2019-06-29 02:14:56
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U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared a law enforcement emergency in Alaska on June 28. The announcement follows a visit to the state where he saw firsthand how many rural communities have little to no public safety.
The Justice Department pledged $10.5 million in immediate funds to support law enforcement in Alaska Native communities. The Justice Department says that $6 million are immediately available to help hire and train village public safety officers as well as tribal and village police officers. The department plans to award $4.5 million for 20 officer positions for Alaska Native grantees by the end of July.
Justice Department official Katharine Sullivan says that the funds are part of a longer-term vision.
“We have this sort of immediate response based on the AG’s visit,” Sullivan explained. “We’re going to have a sort of medium-length response to keep things going, and a long-term plan for sustainability. That’s our goal.”
Other federal agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will submit plans within 30 days to address Alaska rural justice. In separate funding, Children Advocacy Centers in rural hub towns, like Bethel, as well as in Native American communities in the Lower 48 will receive $14 million in support.
The Department of Justice also laid out additional plans for funding opportunities. DOJ’s Sullivan said that the department wants to put a local public safety official in every rural Alaskan community.
The declaration won praise from the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Association of Village Council Presidents. AVCP CEO Vivian Korthuis called the plan “unprecedented.”
“We’ve been busy organizing a Public Safety Facility Assessment, Public Safety Summit, Statewide VPSO Strategic Plan, and creating a Public Safety Task Force. All of these efforts allowed us to lead with solutions, solutions designed to fit our unique needs,” Korthuis said in a statement.
Barr visited Napaskiak on his Alaska trip, and Napaskiak Tribal Administrator Sharon Williams is celebrating the news.
“I’m very happy. I was close to tears this morning when I heard. Now the waiting game begins,” Williams said.
The declaration exceeded her expectations. The community had asked Barr to declare an emergency because of the lack of public safety and high rates of alcohol-related deaths.
The federal declaration came hours before Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed $6 million from the state’s Village Public Safety Officer Program.
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Regarded as best excursions for vacationers coming to Alaska includes
Kenai Fjords National Park. Kenai Fjords is usually utilized from Seward. Within the amazingly green waters of the Fjords is an plentiful array of tidewater and piedmont glaciers. Sea wildlife includes otters, sea lions, harbor seals, humpback and orca whales, porpoises, puffins and kittiwakes. Kenai Fjords National Park is most easily reached by tour boats from Seward or by driving to Exit Glacier, just outside of Seward. Wildlife and glacier exhibits can be found at the Small Boat Harbor visitor center and the Alaska Sealife Center. Many visitors get to Seward by way of cruiseship after an Inside Passage tour. For a terrific day trip, Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park can be reached by car or by way of the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage. Another good choice is the Park Connection Motorcoach, with daily summertime service and morning or afternoon departures from Anchorage. An excellent location to remain before or following an Alaska cruise, or for a number of nights during a land journey, Seward offers a number of unique accommodations possibilities. A cruise into the Kenai Fjords National Park is a must during your visit to Alaska. Kenai Fjords cruises out of Seward range from 5, 6, eight or 10 hours in length and cover numerous areas of the Park, including Resurrection Bay, Fox Island, Holgate Arm and the Northwestern Fjord. Other top sights include a relaxed hike to the face of Exit Glacier and a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center. Sea kayaking and fishing out of Seward are great ways to gain a more up-close and personal experience with the Kenai Fjords surroundings. Seward also has a great selection of unique gift shops and cafes, along with beachcombing, hiking, and horseback riding.