Alaska public safety head says state will assist Nome police investigating sexual assault cases

(Courtesy: KNOM)

State public safety officials assured the audience at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention last week that they are aware of Nome police’s troubles and plan to assist NPD. 

Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner Amanda Price says that although DPS doesn’t have “boots on the ground” in Nome, they are trying to support the Nome police in handling cases, particularly sexual assault cases. She didn’t give an exact date, but says the department is looking to send someone to Nome in the future to evaluate processes relating to those cases.  

Related: Nome has test results from sex assault kits, some more than 10 years old. Now it must find a way to investigate the cases.

“We may ultimately end up helping to determine what the next steps are in terms of how we are going to process that evidence and who’s going to actually house it. At this point I don’t know because the records aren’t very effectively housed,” she said.

Price could not give more detailed information but says DPS is not looking to do an audit of NPD.

Related: Nome police chief says audit of sexual assault cases on hold

“We really just want to help the Nome Police Department get their processes in place. If an audit is beneficial, we could certainly support that and help with that as well. I just don’t know what the community wants and needs right now,” she said.

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Price made those comments in a follow-up interview with KNOM after Nome resident Barb Amarok, the board chair for Sitnasuak Native Corporation, =addressed Price and other panelists at AFN on Thursday. She wanted to know how state legislators could support municipalities like Nome.

“And we recognize the need for law enforcement to participate in training, professional development, to learn more about our culture, our life-ways, and also to understand the complicated and complex history of race relations that we have in Alaska,” she said.

Commissioner Price told KNOM that if citizens are interested in an audit of NPD, they can e-mail her directly: dps.commissioner.office@alaska.gov.