U.S. Attorney Announces Update on Efforts Made to Promote Public Safety in Rural Alaska | USAO-AK


Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced an update on efforts made to promote public safety in rural Alaska.  Following his May 2019 visit, Attorney General William P. Barr declared a law enforcement emergency in rural Alaska under the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance (EFLEA) program, resulting in significant funding and the authorization of several long-term measures to support village public safety and victim services.  To date, $62.1 million in grants have been awarded, with 39 funded law enforcement positions, to support improving public safety in rural Alaska.  A summary of the grant awards and ongoing agency efforts are below.

Prosecution

Part of the resources authorized by Attorney General Barr included three new federal prosecutor positions focused on rural Alaska.  As of March 2020, all three Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) positions have been filled within the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.  In addition, two state prosecutors have been hired and will be appointed as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys (SAUSAs) to assist with criminal cases in rural Alaska.  Several federal cases have already been charged, including, but not limited to:

  • Jayson Knox, 21, a former teacher in Kivalina, is charged with attempted coercion and enticement of a minor, attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and transfer of obscene material to a minor;
  • Christopher Carmichael, 56, a former principal in Bethel, is charged with attempted coercion and enticement of a minor, possession of child pornography, and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor;
  • Brady Grimes, 38, of Utqiagvik, is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, and possession of an unregistered firearm;
  • Stephen Sherman, 35, of Nome, is charged with felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Sherman has also been charged by the State of Alaska for misconduct involving weapons. Sherman has three prior felony convictions for crimes including criminal negligent homicide and assault;
  • Dick Itumulria, 54, of Manokotak, is charged with felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Itumulria, who has a prior felony conviction for sexual assault, has also been charged by the State of Alaska with second degree murder. 

 

Appointment of MMIP Coordinator

This month the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the appointment of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Coordinator for the District of Alaska.  The MMIP Coordinator will gather reliable data to identify MMIP cases connected to Alaska; conduct outreach with tribal communities to assist in the creation and implementation of community action plans; coordinate with tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement in the development of protocols and procedures for responding to and addressing MMIP cases; and promote improved data collection and analyses.  On Nov. 22, 2019, Attorney General Barr launched a national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans.  As part of this MMIP Initiative, DOJ made an initial investment of $1.5 million to hire MMIP Coordinators to serve with U.S. Attorney’s Offices in 11 states, including Alaska.

U.S. Marshals Service (USMS)

In December 2019, the U.S. Marshals Service announced the successful results of “Operation RAAVEN,” where federal, state, and local law enforcement officers joined together to account for registered sex offenders, and to locate and arrest individuals with warrants who were living in Western Alaska.  The operation focused its efforts in Bethel and 13 surrounding villages, to include Napakiak, Napaskiak, Kwethluk, Akiachak, Akiak, Nunapitchuk, Kasigluk, Tuluksak, Eek, Tuntutuliak, Kwigillinok, Stoney River, and Kipnuk.

Following its initial success, “Operation RAAVEN” continued in March 2020, this time focusing its efforts in Hooper Bay, Chevak, Scammon Bay, St. Mary’s, Mountain Village, Russian Mission, Pilot Station, Pitkas Point and Marshall.  During this operation, law enforcement teams arrested 17 individuals with outstanding warrants; conducted 90 sex offender compliance checks; re-registered 12 non-compliant sex offenders; requested one State Failure to Register as a Sex Offender warrant; conducted 30 probation, parole, and pre-trial visits; conducted investigations; assisted with general calls for law enforcement service; and updated photographs and documentation for the Alaska SOR.

Participating in these joint operations were the U.S. Marshals Service, Anchorage Police Department (as a member of the Alaska USMS-Sex Offender Task Force), Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Department of Corrections-Adult Probation, Bethel Police Department, Alaska Public Safety-Sex Offender Registry, VPOs and TPOs.  USMS efforts will continue in rural Alaska communities to address violent crime issues and to enhance the public safety of the area.

EFLEA Award to the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS): $6 Million

Based on the Attorney General’s declaration of a law enforcement emergency in rural Alaska, the State of Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) applied for, and was awarded, $6 million from DOJ’s EFLEA Program. DPS subgranted these funds to the State of Alaska Department of commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED).  On May 8, 2020, DCCED announced that it awarded 15 EFLEA grants, totaling the $6 million, to Alaska Native organizations, Alaska Native Villages, federally recognized Indian tribes, and municipal governments to assist rural communities with infrastructure needs.  This funding allocation is dedicated to renovating current public safety buildings or purchasing prefabricated public safety buildings, serving 31 rural Alaska communities.  Currently, project managers with an environmental consulting firm are in the process of contacting awardees to complete environmental assessments.

FY19 OVC’s Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program Award: $7 Million

DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) awarded $7 million to The Denali Commission, which is implementing a Micro-Grant Program to help support the ability of Alaska’s Native Tribal Communities and/or organizations to develop victim services including behavioral health, telemedicine, and building renovations. Pre-application training and technical assistance will be available to interested communities.  Communities may apply for up to $350,000 and may find more information here.

FY19 Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) Awards: $42 Million

Approximately $42 million in grants were awarded to Alaska Native communities and other tribal designees through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS).  Specifically, on Sept. 30, 2019, DOJ announced that Alaska was awarded over $20 million in CTAS grant funding, and on Oct. 17, 2019, announced over $22 million of set-aside funding for victims of crime to Alaska Native communities and tribal entities.  A list of those awards can be found here.

FY20 COPS Hiring Program (CHP) Award: $2.1 Million

On June 2, 2020, funding in the amount of $2,100,476 was awarded to multiple law enforcement agencies in Alaska, which allows those agencies to hire a combined total of 19 officers to help keep our communities safe. Out of the 19 officers, 18 will be located in rural Alaska. Specifically, 14 officers will be certified Alaska Police Officers, three will be certified VPSOs, and two will be TPOs.  This is part of DOJ’s announcement in awarding nearly $400 million in grant funding nationwide through the COPS Hiring Program (CHP).

Law Enforcement Agency

Award Amount

Positions Funded

Akiak Native Community

$214,956

2

Bethel Police Department

$125,000

1

Chevak, City of

$491,234

6

Ft. Yukon Police Department

$240,598

2

Marshall, City of

$403,688

3

Nome Police Department

$125,000

1

Northwest Arctic Borough

$375,000

3

Palmer Police Department

$125,000

1

 

FY19 COPS Tribal Resources Grant Program (TRGP) Award: $5 Million

On July 30, 2019, Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced that it awarded nearly $5 million through the Tribal Resources Grant Program for the hiring, equipping, and training of VPOs and TPOs working in rural Alaska.  Specifically, funding was allocated to hire officers in 15 communities for a total of 20 officers, of which 14 VPOs have already been hired.  

Tribal Agency

Funding for Equipment

Funding for Hiring

Positions Funded

Akiachak Native Community

$58,074

$241,429

3

Central Council Tlingit and Haida

$204,721

$0

0

Chickaloon Native Village

$4,378

$286,831

1

Holy Cross Tribe

$113,999

$185,457

1

Kasigluk Elders Council

$42,212

$255,077

1

Kodiak Area Native Association

$177,566

$0

0

Maniilaq Association

$253,562

$0

0

Native Village of Kipnuk

$41,199

$109,137

1

Native Village of Kwinhagak

$59,443

$108,211

1

Native Village of Mekoryuk

$7,260

$169,823

2

Native Village of Napaskiak

$31,829

$249,106

2

Native Village of Nulato

$58,837

$223,445

1

Native Village of Ruby

$79,681

$197,539

1

Native Village of Scammon Bay

$38,628

$249,216

2

Native Village of Tanacross

$75,074

$185,538

1

Native Village of Tununak

$73,017

$129,853

1

Northway Village

$70,819

$180,314

1

Sitka Tribe of Alaska

$300,000

$0

0

Venetie Village Council

$38,302

$249,944

1

Yakutat Tlingit Tribe

$241,681

$0

0

This update is part of the Rural Alaska Anti-Violence Enforcement (RAAVEN) Working Group’s ongoing efforts to build the capacity of federal, state, and tribal law enforcement in rural Alaska.  The RAAVEN Working Group, led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, encourages extensive collaboration among law enforcement at all levels, rural communities, Alaska Native groups, victim service organizations, and care providers.  Current law enforcement members of the working group include the U.S. Attorney’s Office, State of Alaska Department of Law, DPS, USMS, FBI, DEA, ATF, USPIS, HSI, USCG, and APD.  



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