After touring through several rural areas of Alaska in May, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, this week, formally declared a state of emergency, in response to high per-capita crime rates and deteriorated public safety conditions.
The Justice Department issued a statement on Friday, June 28, pledging more than $10 million in emergency funding to increase rural law enforcement, $6 million of which will be earmarked to hire, train, and equip police. Another $4.5 million will be allocated to support security personnel within Alaska Native villages.
Funding will be provided by the Justice Department’s Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program.
“In May, when I visited Alaska, I witnessed firsthand the complex, unique, and dire law enforcement challenges the state of Alaska and its remote Alaska Native communities are facing,” Barr explained.
“With this emergency declaration, I am directing resources where they are needed most and needed immediately, to support the local law enforcement response in Alaska Native communities, whose people are dealing with extremely high rates of violence.”
Remote villages in Alaska have long suffered from a shortage of law enforcement. Police work has also been made more difficult by the fact that some Native communities can only be accessed by boat or by plane, and this has created delays in criminal investigations.
According to the Justice Department, Alaska has the highest crime rate per capita in the country. During his visit, Barr met with Alaska natives, who complained of high rates of sexual assault and family-related violence.