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Head of Department of Public Safety Says State Will Assist Nome Police

Close-up of a white Nome Police Department vehicle.
A Nome Police Department vehicle. Photo: KNOM file, Matthew F. Smith.

State public safety officials assured the audience at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Thursday 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.  

“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.”

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

“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.”

Price made those comments in a follow-up interview with KNOM after Nome resident Barb Amarok addressed Price and other panelists at AFN on Thursday. The Board Chair for Sitnasuak Native Corporation 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.”

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.

Image at top: A Nome Police Department vehicle. Photo from the KNOM file, Matthew F. Smith.

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