- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - A bill has been signed into law allowing the Alaska Police Standards Council to work with villages to conduct background checks when hiring police officers.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker visited Bethel last week to sign the bill into law that aims to ensure that villages have the tools necessary to run background checks, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported .

The new law doesn’t require compliance from tribal police departments.

Walker’s administration sent a delegation to the city of Marshall in western Alaska earlier this month. Marshall’s tribal council had issued a request for an emergency declaration last year to address its ongoing public safety crisis.

The community has been without a police force for nearly two decades as the effects of opioids and alcohol increasingly take a toll on the area.



“We looked at ways we could sort of help them transition to have some in that village for public safety,” Walker said.

The administration is committed to finding a solution and the new law could be a part of it, Walker said. Some rural areas did not have the ability to run background checks, he said.

“So that has not been available to the rural areas,” Walker said. “As they bring someone into the system, (this) is going to allow them to the background checks as they do in the bigger cities.”

Walker said he wants more funding directed for public safety, but recent budget cuts have made that money hard to find.

“Well, we certainly apply for every federal funding dollar we can, there’s no question about that,” Walker said. “We have done all the cutting, and I think we’re seeing a significant impact in public safety.”

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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