Fort Yukon, Gambell get federal police grants

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) The Fort Yukon Police Department has received a federal grant that could double its force.

The U.S. Department of Justice granted the department $318,750 to fund one of three officers already working in Fort Yukon, plus two to three more officers, said Police Chief Reggie Fleming.

Fleming said he wants to use the money to pay for a school resource officer and allow another officer to concentrate on drug interdiction.

The Justice Department announced June 6 it will send $78.1 million to departments across the country to pay for 1,004 new law enforcement officers.

Gambell on St. Lawrence Island was the only other Alaska city awarded grant money. It will receive $150,000 to fund two full-time officers.

The grant requires Fort Yukon to provide a 25 percent match.

Fleming and his two officers work and live in the village and are on call 24-hours-a-day for two weeks. They rotate their one week off and fly home to spend time with family in the Fairbanks area.

However, Fleming said, officers often take reports to the district attorney's office or ride along with the Fairbanks Police Department for extra training. They try to have two officers working in Fort Yukon at a time.

Officer Todd Schlumbohm, the department's newest officer at four months, was spending a busy Sunday dealing with calls by himself after Fleming flew to Fairbanks with a prisoner.

Trying to enforce the law in the city that acts as a hub to other Bush villages has an added challenge, Fleming said. The three are often looked upon as outsiders in the tight-knit community 145 air miles north of Fairbanks.

''Some people, you just can't seem to make them happy,'' Fleming said. ''The majority of the city is supportive ... We couldn't have done this without the support of the city council, the city manager and the city mayor.''

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