Troopers establish violent crimes unit in Bethel

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has a new Alaska State Troopers unit this week. The unit’s main goal is to investigate violent crimes faster, so case reports can make it to the district attorney’s desk quickly.

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Alaska State Troopers. Photo: Monica Gokey/ Alaska Public Media file photo.
Alaska State Troopers. Photo: Monica Gokey/ Alaska Public Media file photo.

The Violent Offenders Unit officially began Tuesday, after the team was kick started in mid-September. And their caseload is already nearing 70.

Teague Widmier is the sergeant leading the new three-person unit. He, along with the two patrol troopers on the team, have a combined experience of more than 40 years on the force.

He says he’s excited to be a part of the unit but acknowledges their caseload is already overwhelming.

“This unit has handled 69 cases, so out of those cases, we have worked diligently with the individuals with the families and district attorney’s office.”

The unit focuses on investigating crimes of sexual assault and child sex abuse. Their duties include interviewing perpetrators, victims and witnesses, as well as transporting survivors to Bethel for sexual assault evidence exams, or rape kits, and other medical needs.

Trooper Cpt. Barry Wilson overseas the Bethel trooper post. He says some variation of the unit has been in discussion for years.

“So it’s kind of been in this transitional through process, we knew we wanted to do something different. We just weren’t sure what that would look like, and what that will ultimately look like.”

Wilson says centralizing the investigations to one unit will relieve other patrol troopers so they can focus on their other duties.