The DOJ is awarding the state of Alaska 10.5 million dollars, after the governor slashed $3 million from the state budget.
According to World is One News (WION), “US Attorney General William Barr on Friday declared a public-safety emergency in rural Alaska and pledged $10.5 million in federal funds to combat some of the nation`s worst rates of sexual assault, child abuse and other violent crimes.”
Six million will be used to hire, equip and train rural police, and the other $4.5 million will be provided to Alaskan Native organizations to support the hire of 20 officer positions.
Alaska doesn’t strike the average American as a dangerous place to be, but, according to Business Insider, there are at least 75 Alaskan Native villages that don’t have a police force and depend on Alaskan State Troopers. Because most of the villages are only accessible by boat or plane, response time can be hours. This has resulted in a very high rate of sexual assault and child abuse.
Aside from the remoteness and weather hindrances of Alaska, WION explains that Alaskan Native tribes do not have the legal authority to establish their own police forces, due to the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. State-funded rural law enforcement is suffering due to the state’s long-running fiscal problems, thanks to it being dependent on the declining oil industry (probably due to 60% of Alaska being owned by the federal government). This was the reasoning behind Governor Mike Dunleavy making deep cuts to the fiscal budget, $3 million of which was allotted for the village public safety program.
So, what is the solution here? Clearly, the DOJ should not be overstepping the state governor’s rulings. Yet it’s obvious that the state of Alaska needs more police. But how do we ask civilians to fund their local police when most of the villages suffer from staggering unemployment? Unfortunately, this is a much bigger problem with no simple solution – many of Alaska’s problems stem from unconstitutional federal oversight. The long-term solution is that the citizens of Alaska need to step up and take back control of their state.