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AG Barr declares emergency in rural Alaska as rape and violent crime go unchecked

We can only hope that Barr’s move can bring some normalcy to the Native populations up north. 

The Alaskan tourism board is doing something right.

The sheer amount of television programs on today that prominently feature the 49th state is absurd, to say the least.  In many cases, these programs are nothing more than some other show that has been retooled in order to add “Alaska” to the title, imbuing the program with some sort fo mythical wildness in an effort to boost ratings.

Don’t get me wrong, Alaska is certainly wild, but perhaps not in the way that we envisioned.

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U.S. 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.

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Barr’s announcement followed a visit to Alaska last month, where the country’s top law enforcement official was told about extraordinary high rates of rape and domestic violence and a lack of police officers.

About a third of Alaska Native villages lack local law-enforcement services, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice announcing the federal money.

Barr was quite serious.

“I witnessed firsthand the complex, unique, and dire law enforcement challenges the State of Alaska and its remote Alaska Native communities are facing,” Barr said in the statement.

As it turns out, the idyllic scenery does not make for an idyllic lifestyle.

Alaska tribes do not have the legal authority to establish police forces, a product of the sweeping 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that restricted tribal powers, Native leaders told Barr in May. Establishing tribal police would require another act of Congress, the Native leaders said.

State-funded rural law enforcement has been hindered by Alaska’s long-running fiscal problems. The state is dependent on oil revenues that are dwindling and has cut back services over the years.

We can only hope that Barr’s move can bring some normalcy to the Native populations up north.

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