Alaska's Police Crisis: Every Cop in This Village Has Been Convicted of Domestic Violence

Every police officer in one Alaska city has been convicted of domestic violence, according to a new report.

An investigation, published by The Anchorage Daily News in partnership with ProPublica, on Thursday found that the chief of Stebbins City Police Department and all six of his officers have pleaded guilty to domestic violence within the past decade.

Issues related to understaffing and lack of funding has forced the town to relax their hiring standards for police officers in order to recruit enough staff to ensure the safety of roughly 565 residents. Due to the remote location of the village and the $14 an hour salary, applicants willing to take the role are often limited to ex-convicts.

In addition, only one officer from the seven-man police force has received formal law enforcement training.

Nimeron Mike applied to be a cop with the station late last December. He never expected his application to be successful. After all, he was a registered sex offender who had recently served six years in an Alaska jail. His criminal record also listed a slew of various crimes, including assault, domestic violence, vehicle theft, groping a woman, hindering prosecution, reckless driving and drunk driving.

"My record, I thought I had no chance of being a cop," the 43-year-old told the newspaper.

In some U.S. cities, however, even applicants recently released from prison can be recruited as law enforcement, including convicted sex criminals.

Mike was hired the day he submitted his application. "Am I a cop now?" he thought at the time, according to the report. "It's like, that easy?"

Mike was terminated from the force on March 29, according to city records. City administrators told the publication that the decision was made on the basis that he neglected to answer phone calls, among other things.

In 2017, the current police chief in Stebbins pleaded guilty to forcing a teenager to the ground and threatening to end her life. The official, who was not identified in the article, was intoxicated at the time, despite alcohol being outlawed in the village where the crime occurred.

"It's outrageous that we have a situation where we have a, such a lack of public safety that communities are resorting to hiring people who have the propensity for violence," Melanie Bahnke, a board member for the Alaska Federation of Natives, told the newspaper. "And placing them in a position where they have control over people and possibly could victimize the victims further."

The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica, in a May installment of a continuing series titled Lawless: Sexual Violence in Alaska, reported that one-third of all communities in Alaska have no police officers. Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that more than $10 million in public funding would be allocated to addressing the public safety emergency in the northwest state.

Alaska Cops Domestic Violence
File photo: Prince William Sound, Alaska. Every cop in Alaska's Stebbins City Police Department has been convicted of domestic violence, according to a report. Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty