As of today, two Aleutian communities are lacking local law enforcement. The village public safety officer in Akutan has resigned for personal reasons. And False Pass lost its VPSO two months ago, when the officer moved back to the East Coast to be near family.
Both were employed by the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, or APIA. They get funding from the state of Alaska to put officers in five communities.
But keeping them is a challenge. APIA’s public safety coordinator Michael Nemeth [KNEE-mith] says most VPSOs don’t stay in the Aleutians and Pribilofs for more than a few years. Hiring from within the region might help with that, but Nemeth says it’s tough to pull off.
Without an officer on the ground, Akutan and False Pass will be relying on the Alaska State Troopers. And Nemeth says he could always quote-”saddle up” himself. He’s a certified VPSO with experience in Nelson Lagoon and St. George.
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