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Nome Public Safety Advisory Commission Offers Alternate Way to File a Complaint

Where can you go if you have a discrimination or policy complaint against a Nome city official? If you don’t feel comfortable taking your complaint to the Nome City Manager or Police Department, the Nome Public Safety Advisory Commission is ready to take your concerns.

Commission Chair Irvin Barnes wants Nome-ites to know there’s a process in place for them to report their concerns. To ensure as much privacy as possible, complaints are being funneled through one of the nine public safety commissioners.

First, you can fill out a complaint form on the city website.

“And then once you’ve completed that, you can turn it into Commissioner Traci (McGarry) who will kind of be the liaison between the community member and the City Manager.”

– Irvin Barnes

Right now, the commission is sending complaints through Public Safety Advisory Commissioner Traci McGarry. You can contact Traci via e-mail at traci.psac@gmail.com.

During their regular meeting last week, commissioners often found themselves using the word “advocate.”

“It’s our duty to make sure that once we start the process of a complaint with a community member, whether small or large, we want to make sure that that community member is receiving the proper treatment and attention that is needed for their complaint.”

– Irvin Barnes

The Nome Public Safety Advisory Commission was formed last year after residents went public with their concerns that the police department wasn’t properly investigating certain cases, particularly sexual assault and domestic violence involving Alaska Native women. Others feared that police officers were violating policy –citing claims of NPD giving “ride-a-longs” to minors. The public wasn’t sure, at the time, if city management was actually addressing their concerns.

Barnes hopes that the commission’s work will make the city safer for everyone.

“We want to ensure the community has a voice and we were put together to help re-kindle or re-establish the relationship between the community and the police department.”

– Irvin Barnes

Public Safety Advisory Commissioners’ contact information can be found on the City of Nome’s website. Citizens can reach out to any commission member if they feel the need, but formal complaints have to be filed in writing.

The reporting party should also be aware that depending on the nature of a complaint, the individual’s identity may not be able to be kept anonymous.

Image at top: (From left to right) Commissioners Lisa Ellanna, Irvin Barnes, and Justin Noffsker are present while others conference call into the meeting in order to practice social distancing. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2020).

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