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An Innovative Response to an Intractable Problem -- Using Village Public Safety Officers To Enhance the Criminal Justice Response to Violence Committed Against Alaska Native and American Indian Women in Alaska's Tribal Communities

NCJ Number
Brad A. Myrstol
Date Published
June 2018
124 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of a study that evaluated the impact of Alaska's village public safety officer (VPSO) program on the investigation and prosecution of cases of sexual and domestic violence against Alaska Native and American Indian women in Alaska's tribal communities.
VSPOs are a "force multiplier" for state troopers by serving as first responders and assisting with investigations. VPSOs also serve crime victims and their communities by providing post-incident support and services in the aftermath of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and domestic violence incidents. This evaluation of the VPSO program reviewed case records on 693 cases of sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor, as well as 982 cases of domestic violence closed by the Alaska State Trooper C-Detachment between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2011. Evaluation findings show that the men and women who serve in Alaska's VPSO program, along with other paraprofessional police, play a central role in the criminal justice response to crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and domestic violence committed in the state's tribal communities. Their efforts increase the probability the such reported cases will be referred and accepted for prosecution and ultimately lead to a conviction. The evaluation also found, however, that although the services of VPSOs improve criminal justice responses to cases of sexual abuse of a minor, they were not as effective in responding to other types of sexual assault cases after taking into account all the factors involved. This finding was unanticipated, and the evaluators have no data-based explanation for it. Regarding VPSO effects on domestic violence cases, because referral, acceptance, and conviction rates were so high for such offenses, no VPSO-specific effects were detectable. 99 tables, 7 figures, and appended Alaska statutes pertinent to sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor