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Selawik welcomes Arctic's newest Alaska State Troopers

Hannah HeimbuchThe Arctic Sounder
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The Arctic's newest Alaska State Troopers pull rank in Selawik on Monday.

The opening is a result of ongoing requests to provide more trooper support in the region, previously dependent on troopers out of Kotzebue.

Joseph Masters, Department of Public Safety commissioner, announced the addition of three troopers with two housed in Selawik last May. Since that time Selawik officials have worked to find a place to house the troopers and their office.

For the time being, the post will have an office in the public school building, with the potential for converting the National Guard armory into an office later.

The two troopers, who will serve two weeks on, and two weeks off, have housing at the 20-unit apartment building in town.

The city is looking forward to having help close at hand to deal with the alcohol, drug and assault issues that are common in many Alaska communities, said Tribal Council President Clyde Ramoth. He added that Selawik's central location and larger size makes it a good place for a post, and also a potential hotspot for illegal activity.

"Geographically we sit right in the middle of the region. We're a hop skip and a jump away from Kiana, which is a wet community," and close to Kotzebue, he added.

The new post's opening comes just one week after a shooting threat required troopers to fly in to respond to Selawik. This is just the situation an on-scene trooper will be able to deal with more efficiently in the future.

"Additional manpower will help," said Kotzebue post Sergeant Duane Stone. "Selawik is the largest (nearby) village with close to 1,000 people. We're going to be there on site to respond immediately to issues instead of having to deal with flying."

While the village does have VSPOs, Ramoth said bringing in highly trained assistance will bring peace of mind to residents who've long been concerned about public safety support.

"These guys are professionals. They're well trained in search and rescue efforts, fire safety prevention, those kinds of things," Ramoth said. He added that he and other city officials have put a lot of effort into organizing the setup and making sure facilities were available when the troopers reported to duty.

"There's a community effort to support the troopers and deal with issues," Ramoth said. "Since January of last year we've had probably close to 20 meetings with tribal council and city council."

This article was originally published by The Arctic Sounder and is reprinted here with permission.