Another death in a western Alaskan jail has occurred, this time in Akiachak. Tribal jail guards found Robert Nick, age 54, unresponsive on Friday, May 10.
Tribal police officers had picked up Nick for intoxication earlier that day. According to the Alaska State Troopers dispatch, the guards attempted to save his life.
The troopers were notified later that night. An investigation is ongoing, but the dispatch says that alcohol played a role in the death. KYUK reached out to Akiachak tribal police for a comment, but didn't get a response by publication.
This is the third recent jail-related death in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Two weeks ago, a young man and a young woman died when the Napakiak jail burned down. Both of them had been picked up for driving a four-wheeler while intoxicated.
While the three deaths occurred under significantly different circumstances, it does raise questions about how tribal jails are operated. The state does not regulate jails or tribal police officers, and rural villages have few resources for law enforcement.
Village police officers are hired by the city, and are required to have at least two weeks of training, which includes first aid, fire-fighting skills, and firearm safety. Tribal police officers are not required to have that level of training, said Bob Griffith, the executive director for the Alaska Police Standards Council. However, there is national training available for tribal police officers.