Alaska public safety group to review fatal, near-fatal domestic violence cases

A police crime lab parked outside a duplex on 15th Avenue. (Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

The Alaska Department of Public Safety is forming a team to review fatal and near-fatal cases of domestic violence.

State public safety officials say they hope to find ways to prevent people from being killed or seriously injured by their partner or others with whom they live.

“There’s got to be more that we can do to intervene and get people help before it results in their death,” said Megan Peters, communications director at the Department of Public Safety.

That includes police contact, but can also include doctors, teachers and others noticing clues that a person is suffering from abuse or domestic violence, Peters said.

“The vast majority of violent crimes are DV-related, and we keep throwing what we can at it. We recognize that there’s always more that can be done,” Peters said. “And by having a thorough review of cases it could give us insight that maybe just hadn’t been thought of yet.”

The review team will be made up of representatives from several different agencies and organizations, including the Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Alaska Native Justice Center and University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, among others.

Public safety officials said their reviews will be confidential, but final reports will be made public.

There is no additional funding for the review team. By signing onto a three-year memorandum of understanding, the member agencies agree to cover the cost of their employees working on the team, Peters said.

Many decisions — like which cases to review, how many to review and the frequency of meetings — are yet to be determined, Peters said.