ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Advocates are working with Alaska tribal and state leaders to develop legislation to end what they say has become a crisis of missing and slain indigenous women.
Advocates have called on Alaska legislators and Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy to take action to protect indigenous women, KTUU-TV reported Monday.
Kendra Kloster, executive director of Native People’s Action, said the organization is looking at ways to address the issue and extend the coverage of village public safety officers.
Kloster wrote to Dunleavy in October urging him to include funding in the upcoming year’s budget to address the issues.
“We want to look at this as a bipartisan issue,” Kloster said. “It’s a public safety issue.”
Kloster cited a 2017 nationwide study of 71 cities by the Urban Indian Health Institute that found Anchorage had the third-highest number of missing and slain indigenous women cases with 31. Seattle had the most with 45.
Dunleavy has proposed legislation that would require village police officers to complete instruction regarding domestic violence and sexual assault. The bill defines village police officer as an employee of an incorporated city or municipality off the state road system with a population of less than 2,000 people.
A joint House and Senate working group submitted recommendations last month to improve the village public safety officer program, noting it is “distressed” but not broken.
The governor is reviewing the report and its recommendations, Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said.
“We need our partners, and our legislators and our governor to come out really strong, and be with us, and say this is an indigenous-led effort,” Kloster said. “Because enough is enough. I’m tired of losing our indigenous people.”
This story has been corrected to say Gov. Mike Dunleavy introduced a bill addressing village police officers, not that a House committee wrote it It also clarifies to say Kendra Kloster said her organization is looking to address the number of village public safety officers..