Reps Foster and Salmon Comment on U.S. Senate’s Passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act
Village public safety resources “much needed” in rural Alaska
NOME and CHALKYITSIK, AK - Today, Representative Neal Foster (D-Nome) and Representative Woodie Salmon (D-Chalkyitsik) lauded the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act. The new law would allow federal grants to help pay for village public safety officers (VPSOs) in rural Alaska.
“It’s just wonderful,” said Rep. Salmon. “The state is so frugal with its funding of these much needed officers that villages never get the protection they need. Being able to get federal funding will be a big plus for rural Alaska.”
Currently, villages and other advocates for increased rural public safety must go through the state Legislature or Congressional earmark process to get funding. Funding through these sources has been inconsistent and difficult to obtain.
“I commend Senator Murkowski for making sure the Senate included rural Alaska’s VPSOs in this bill, and I look forward to it passing the full Congress.” said Rep. Foster. “Finding more ways to adequately fund public safety would be a big win for rural Alaska.”
Alaska State Troopers have a limited presence in most of rural Alaska, and VPSOs are often the only law enforcement. In addition to policing, VPSOs fill a number of roles including emergency first response and search and rescue.
“Now if we can only get them more authority and real guns,” added Rep. Salmon, referring to the fact that VPSOs can only carry mace and other non-lethal deterrents and can only detain, not arrest, suspects in a crime.The Tribal Law and Order Act now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.