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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder Announces Efforts Made to Address Public Safety Crisis in Rural Alaska

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced an update on efforts made by law enforcement agencies to address the public safety crisis in rural Alaska.  In May 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr came to Alaska to personally examine the public safety situation in the vast rural areas of the state.  Based on that visit, Attorney General Barr declared a law enforcement emergency in rural Alaska under the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance (EFLEA) program, making $6 million immediately available to the State of Alaska for critical law enforcement needs.  Recognizing that Alaska has the highest per capita crime rate in the country, and the unique circumstances of Alaska’s geographical and jurisdictional landscape, the Attorney General authorized additional funding, and several long-term measures to support village public safety and victim services.  A summary of the grant awards and ongoing agency efforts are below.

Formation of the RAAVEN Working Group

 In his announcement of emergency funding for public safety in rural Alaska, Attorney General Barr tasked the U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska to form a rural Alaska violent crime reduction working group.  Within days, U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder formed the group, now called the Rural Alaska Anti-Violence Enforcement (RAAVEN) Working Group.  Initially, the group helped coordinate the law enforcement and prosecution resources provided by Attorney General Barr, including the $6 million EFLEA grant, and almost $5 million in Tribal Resource Grant Funds, both discussed below.  In addition to members from the federal, state, and local law enforcement community, RAAVEN will also form a consultation group with Alaska Native leaders, working on medium and long-term planning to address violent crime issues in rural Alaska.

EFLEA Grant Award to the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS)

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 proposed to use this funding to address the high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes in the state by subgranting funds to Alaska Native organizations and villages to address critical public safety infrastructure needs in rural Alaska to support law enforcement services within communities. 

DPS is actively developing the sub-grant solicitation for communities and tribal entities to apply for a portion of the $6 million made available through the EFLEA Program. The funding is expected to be available starting Oct. 1, 2019, for qualifying infrastructure projects, such as holding cells.  Quality infrastructure for public safety purposes will help ease recruitment and retention issues in rural Alaskan communities. 

With the notable call for more public safety options in rural Alaska, the Alaska Police Standards Counsel has increased its outreach to communities to help screen Village Police Officer (VPO) applicants.  Additionally, training opportunities for VPOs and Tribal Police Officers (TPOs), through Yuut Elitnaurviat (YE) Corporation, commonly known as Yuut, has increased.  An extra academy was added to the training schedule for October 2019.  Providing training in rural Alaska makes it less burdensome for recruits and existing VPOs to attend. Yuut provides training and education opportunities for the people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region.

COPS Grant Award

On July 30, 2019, Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) awarded nearly $5 million through the Tribal Resources Grant Program for the hiring, equipping, and training of VPOs and TPOs working in rural Alaska.  The awards are as follows:

Tribal Agency

Funding for Equipment

Funding for Hiring

Positions Funded

Akiachak Native Community




Central Council Tlingit and Haida




Chickaloon Native Village




Holy Cross Tribe




Kasigluk Elders Council




Kodiak Area Native Association




Maniilaq Association




Native Village of Kipnuk




Native Village of Kwinhagak




Native Village of Mekoryuk




Native Village of Napaskiak




Native Village of Nulato




Native Village of Ruby




Native Village of Scammon Bay




Native Village of Tanacross




Native Village of Tununak




Northway Village




Sitka Tribe of Alaska




Venetie Village Council




Yakutat Tlingit Tribe




U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Alaska

On July 24-25, 2019, representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in live trainings in Anchorage and Bethel, hosted by DOJ’s Office of Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), COPS, and Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ), on providing guidance to potential applications and tribal associations on how to access the OCV tribal set-aside grants for victim services.  During the week of Aug. 18, 2019, U.S. Attorney Schroder joined community members, along with officials from the White House and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) at the Reclaiming our Native Communities Roundtable in Nome, Alaska. Members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office also attended a Public Safety Listening Session in Bethel, Alaska the same week to discuss ways to address public safety challenges in the region.

Part of the resources authorized by Attorney General Barr included three new federal prosecutor positions focused on rural Alaska.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office has selected one new attorney and is currently reviewing resumes for two additional prosecutors who will have an emphasis on criminal cases in rural Alaska.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

In the last 30 days, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Alaska State Troopers (AST), and the Tanana Chief’s Conference, visited villages in the interior and the north coastal Alaska regions, discussing collaborative public safety and prevention measures with community leaders and local law enforcement officers.  DEA also held community outreach visits with the students of each village, highlighting gun safety and the DEA Red Ribbon program, the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program.

Also, DEA Diversion Investigators visited with community leaders, pharmacists and medical professionals throughout the North Slope.  Productive conversations regarding the on-going opioid epidemic, record keeping and federal regulations were discussed.  Efforts are on-going and visits will continue throughout Alaska.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF)

Since Aug. 19, 2019, ATF, in partnership with DEA, AST, and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, traveled to villages in the interior and the north coastal Alaska regions, discussing collaborative public safety and prevention measures with the community leaders and local law enforcement officers.  During this time, ATF participated in community outreach visits with students of each village highlighting the importance of firearms safety. Additionally, ATF informed community leaders of existing federal firearm statutes that can be applied to address violent offenders within their communities and also provided information on resources available to victims of domestic violence. 

ATF efforts will continue throughout rural Alaska and will include training sessions for state and local law enforcement officers that will focus on firearms enforcement training to improve state and local law enforcement response to firearms related crimes, and identification of offenders suitable for prosecution. 

U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

Starting on Aug. 18, 2019, the USPIS, DEA, HSI, and ATF, have been conducting drug enforcement operations looking for controlled substances destined to rural Alaska.  These operations resulted in the seizure of approximately 30,000 controlled pills along with other suspected controlled substances.

U.S. Marshals Service (USMS)

The U.S. Marshals continue to work in partnership with AST in rural Alaska.  Rob Heun, U.S. Marshal for Alaska, is currently hosting the U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington to address the role the Marshals will play in Attorney General Barr’s initiative.  As part of this assessment, on Sept. 10, 2019, the USMS spent the day in Bethel and Tuntutuliak.  During this time, the USMS coordinated equipment needs for AST, met with the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), met with village leaders in Tuntutuliak, and coordinated with Yuut and the lower Kuskokwim School District regarding kid’s camps.

This announcement was made as 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 (USAO), State of Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS), State of Alaska Department of Law (DOL), the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), FBI, DEA, ATF, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the Anchorage Police Department (APD).


Chloe Martin
Public Affairs Officer

Updated September 12, 2019

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