The first civilian police accountability commission in Alaska is learning that they have a lot of training and procedural policy to work through before they can be effective in serving the community of Nome.
On Thursday, City Clerk Bryant Hammond swore in eight members, out of nine, to the Nome Public Safety Advisory Commission. Justin Noffsker joined late and Maureen Koezuna was unable to attend the first meeting.
After saying their oaths of office, the new commission unanimously voted Irvin Barnes, lifelong Nome resident, to be their chair.
“I do love my culture. I love my community. I’ve grown up here and I volunteered for a reason: I want to be a voice for our people. And I know you guys have that same desire.”-Irvin Barnes
And Carol Piscoya as deputy-chair.
“We have a very sick community and we need to try and making things turn around and make it a healing community and a better community for our kids to want to live here and want to stay here.”-Carol Piscoya
In a break from tradition, the group met in the Richard Foster building instead of City Hall, in an effort to be more inclusive to those who feel hurt by city government.
During their meeting, the new commission received a direct complaint from resident James Sherman of Nome about his recent experience with the Nome Police. Public Safety Commissioner Lisa Ellanna noted that they will need to come up with a way to handle formal complaints.
But the commission encompasses all aspects of public safety, not just policing issues, as John Handeland reminded them in his citizens comments. Speaking as a citizen of Nome, Handeland asked the commission to look at ways to address issues of public intoxication.
The commissioners have until December 9th to complete their required trainings which include but are not limited to learning the Operations and Procedures Manual, the Alaska Open Meetings Act, trauma informed interview training, and racial equity training.
The next public safety advisory commission meeting has yet to be scheduled as commissioners are focused on completing their training.
Image at top: Some members of the public safety advisory commission. From left to right: Carol Piscoya (Deputy Chair), Irvin Barnes (Chair), and Traci McGarry. Photo by Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019).