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Results From 2019 Audit of Nome Police Not Yet Released, No Reason Given for Delay

Results from a long-anticipated audit of the Nome Police Department have now been pushed back indefinitely. The Nome Common Council discussed public safety updates during their regular meeting on Monday night and learned that a report from a November 2019 audit of NPD still hasn’t been furnished.

Russell Consulting LLC visited Nome on November 5th of last year to externally review policing procedures, evidence collection, and other departmental issues as part of a department-wide audit. Nearly ten months later, Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman says nothing has materialized.

“We’ve never seen any report. We would request it and [they] would say it would be ready and then and then we would it press it, but…”

Neither Nome’s current city manager nor the police chief were in charge of their respective departments when the audit was conducted.

It’s unclear why Russell Consulting LLC has not yet produced a written report for Nome. The company’s Greg Russell confirmed with KNOM on Tuesday morning that his firm did conduct an audit and that he does plan on finishing the report but he would not give a timeline. Russell would also not comment on the reason for the delay or the contents of the audit.

Now with so much time elapsed, Manager Steckman wants an additional audit to get a more accurate idea on where the department actually stands to date.

“Let’s get that 2019 report wrapped up and at the same time let’s look at where we are in 2020 to see, ‘Has the police department made progress or has the department gotten worse in some areas?’ ” 

Manager Steckman said it would now be “unfair” to the police and the city to release a document that was so outdated without any current comparison. The rest of Monday’s regular meeting went by quickly with the entire Council present either in-person or by telephone.

Nome’s Port Director Joy Baker updated the Council on the Deep Draft Port Expansion project. Baker reports that the Army Corps of Engineers has found no significant impact in their environmental analysis thus far. Authorization for the Nome port project is included in the 2020 WRDA Bill [Water Resources Development Act] which has now moved forward into the U.S. House of Representatives. Baker reminded the council that the project has the support of Alaska’s Congressional delegation.

“I believe the authorization is essential. The entire delegation has advised that they are spreading the word amongst their colleagues about the project and the importance of having infrastructure in the Arctic. They believe they’re going to be successful in achieving the authorization.” 

In other transportation-related news, Manager Steckman shared that Alaska Airlines plans to bring back weekend flights to the community of Nome as of Labor Day weekend (September 5th). That update comes as Norton Sound Health Corporation recently announced they will temporarily be suspending rapid testing in the region, which was available daily at the local airport, due to a national shortage of supplies.

The next Nome Common Council meeting is scheduled for August 24th.

Image at Top: The Nome City Council met on August 10th, 2020. None of the councilmembers have opted to wear masks at their meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM 2020.

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