Agency Type: Police Department
Population Size, based on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau: 6,270
Agency Size: 26 total - 18 sworn; 8 non-sworn
Initiative Partnership(s): City of Bethel; Local Community and Business leaders; Tundra Women’s Coalition.
Grant Focus Area(s): Training; Community Engagement; Technology
The Bethel, Alaska Police Department (BPD), with a total staff of 26, is the principal law enforcement agency for the City of Bethel. Bethel is a city of approximately 45 square miles, with a population of just over 6,000. It is surrounded by 50 villages in the 58,000 square miles of the Yukon Delta Region of Southwestern Alaska, approximately 400 air miles northwest of Anchorage. Bethel is a rural city not connected to the road system; the only way in and out is by plane. Bethel’s per capita violent crime rate is significantly higher than both the national and statewide averages.
The BPD’s attempts to address violent crime are hampered by limited resources and the cost of sending officers out of the region or state for training. Rural Violent Crime Reduction Initiative (RVCRI) funding will support train-the-trainer model training for BPD officers who can then train other officers and community members in Bethel and outlying villages in violence prevention and suicide prevention programs. The BPD will work with clergy and other community leaders as a response team to assist on calls involving subjects in mental crisis. The BPD also plans to address crime hot spots through active problem-solving patrols and technology deployments.