On Friday, March 15, Senator Lisa Murkowski outlined a proposal with Alaska's tribal leaders that would create the framework to collaboratively solve the public safety crisis in rural Alaska.
Murkowski's Rural Public Safety Initiative attempts to bring the State of Alaska and Alaska Native tribes together to increase both the public safety presence and authority to the most remote Alaskan communities.
"We face a crisis of public safety in rural Alaska," said Senator Murkowski. "Year after year, Alaska reports the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Nation."
Under Murkowski's proposed initiative, the State of Alaska would cross-deputize the tribal or village law enforcement officers so they could assist with the enforcement of state criminal laws.
"We have over 100 villages without the presence of law enforcement. That means if an assault happens, 9-1-1 doesn't work. Furthermore, trained people must be available in a timely manner to collect the forensic evidence necessary to sustain prosecutions," said Sen. Murkowski. "We must push to ensure that geography is no barrier to justice. Our Tribal Courts and our State courts must be working together, rather than opposing one another... We must collaborate in a meaningful and respectful way."
The Rural Public Safety Initiative quotes statistics that show nearly 50 percent of women in rural Alaska are victims of sexual assault during their lifetime.
Contact Jessica Ridgway