After months of discussion surrounding public safety in Aleknagik following a break in, the city council held a meeting at the end of the year about residents' concerns.
It was an emotional scene at Aleknagik's last city council meeting of the year, when Apay'u Moore addressed the lack of law enforcement in the community.
“This isn’t an issue that’s my life passion, it needs to be confronted in some sort of public capacity because there’s a disheartening enabling of criminals in this community,” Moore said. “Law-abiding community members must be protected. I was ready to shoot someone. That makes me feel terrible.”
In October, a man attempted to break in to Moore’s home. When she called the Alaska State Troopers, no one was available to respond.
After the incident, the troopers advised Moore and other residents in the community to be “as self-sufficient as possible,” as law enforcement officers are spread thin across remote communities.
Aleknagik City Council member Ward Jones was skeptical of that response.
“I thought the public response was a little overdone,” Jones said. “If we started a vigilante committee up here [the troopers] wouldn’t take well to it.”
There is no police force in Aleknagik, and no Village Police Officer or Village Public Safety Officer. Mayor Kay Andrews said the VPSO position has been open for at least two years.
“We had a longtime VPSO in our community who lived here, raised a family and has since retired,” Andrews said. “There has been interest, but there is no housing availability.”
The VPSO position, sponsored by the Bristol Bay Native Association, has been in Aleknagik’s capital improvement plan during that two-year span. The Aleknagik Tribal Council is also working to fill the VPO vacancy, and the city council is working to increase interest in public safety among youths.
The Aleknagik City Council was at this year’s Alaska Municipal League in Anchorage to meet with officials and discuss public safety. One of the topics of discussion was last year’s $6 million state budget cut from the VPSO program. Governor Mike Dunleavy made the cut, citing a lack of new hires.
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