Anchorage Daily News reporter Kyle Hopkins is the winner of the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting. He was honored for his investigation “Lawless,” a project of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, which uncovered a sexual assault crisis in rural Alaska and how it is compounded by a profound lack of public safety services.
The series’ first story, based on more than 750 public records requests and interviews, found that one in three Alaska communities has no local law enforcement of any kind. These are also among the most vulnerable communities in the United States, with the highest rates of sexual assault, suicide and domestic violence. The series also found that dozens of Alaska communities, desperate for police of any kind, hired officers convicted of felonies, domestic violence, assault and other offenses that would make them ineligible to work in law enforcement or even as security guards anywhere else in the country. The impact of the stories was dramatic, with tangible steps taken to address the crisis. After U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared the problems identified in our stories to be a public safety crisis, the U.S. Department of Justice pledged more than $52 million to provide public safety officers, training and infrastructure in Alaska villages. The U.S. attorney’s office announced it will add rural prosecutors, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced plans to hire 15 additional rural Alaska troopers — increasing the number of state law enforcement officers based directly in villages by 40% in 2020. In addition, the Alaska Police Standards Council has proposed changing state regulations that govern the hiring and screening of village police officers.
The Daily News’ Loren Holmes, Bill Roth, Marc Lester, David Hulen, Alex Demarban, Michelle Theriault Boots and Tess Williams, as well as ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein, Adriana Gallardo, Beena Raghavendran and Nadia Sussman also contributed to the series.
Co-sponsored by the University of Colorado College of Media, Communication and Information and the Denver Press Club, the Al Nakkula Award recognizes a reporter, or team, for outstanding accomplishment in police reporting. Learn more about the award here.