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Historic Step Forward in Enforcement of Tribal Court Protective Orders

Oct 21, 2022

The Alaska Department of Public Safety in Partnership with the Alaska Department of Law, Alaska Tribal leaders, Alaska Native Justice Center, and RurAL CAP have made a significant and historic step forward in addressing public safety and improving protections for victims of domestic violence, specifically for Alaska Native Tribal members. The Department of Public Safety has been working to update the Alaska Public Safety Network (APSIN) so that any Tribal Court Protective Order can be entered into the statewide criminal justice data system. This step removes past barriers of requiring Tribal Judges and Courts to submit their orders to the Alaska State Courts for entry and tracking which has caused unnecessary delays.

“I am committed to improving public safety outcomes in rural Alaska, and this is just one example of the many initiatives that we are working on,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “Thank you to our Tribal stakeholders who had the courage to come forward with their concerns and work together with us to find solutions.”

Today if a Tribal Court Judge issued a Tribal protective order for a victim of a crime in their community, the court keeps a copy, the victim gets a copy, the suspect/respondent gets a copy, and in some cases a copy is faxed to the local police as well as the nearest Alaska State Trooper office. In the current process, a suspect could potentially follow a victim to another area of the state and then violate the order by doing something that the Tribal Judge ordered them not to do. When a law enforcement officer responds, they would have no way to verify what the Tribal Judge ordered.

Under the new process that should be fully rolled out early next year after Tribal Court training and IT modifications are completed, law enforcement will be able to immediately validate Tribal protective orders in the same way that they would validate a traditional protective order issued by a State Judicial Officer. This will ensure that victims of crime are consistently protected statewide.

“In 2021 stakeholders determined that there had to be a better way to work together to improve the quality of service to victims in our Tribal communities,” said Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “These stakeholders came together to problem solve and identified that by using current laws they could modify procedures and leverage technology in a multipronged approach to enhance the enforcement of State and Tribal Protective orders.”

Media Contact: Jeff Turner, Office of the Governor,
Tim DeSpain, DPS Public Information Officer,