Every police officer in Stebbins, Alaska, has pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges

Dillon Thompson

There are seven police officers in Stebbins, Alaska, and all of them have been convicted of domestic violence. 

The small town's police force is made up of officers with criminal records, including one man who was a registered sex offender, according to a new investigation by The Anchorage Daily News in partnership with ProPublica.

The city's lax hiring standards — which the investigation found were common elsewhere in rural Alaska — are tied to understaffing and a lack of sufficient funds. Officers in Stebbins are paid just $14 an hour

As a result, options are limited in the village, which has a population of less than 600. All seven men currently employed by the department — including the police chief —have pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in the past decade. 

Nimeron Mike, the convicted sex offender, was hired the same day he turned in his application, despite the fact that he'd spent six years in prison for a slew of crimes that included assault, groping a woman, hindering prosecution and choking a woman unconscious in an attempted sexual assault. 

"Am I a cop now? It's like, that easy?" Mike told reporters he remembered thinking at the time.

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Mike was terminated in March, although seemingly not because of his criminal record. Instead, the city's administrator told The Anchorage Daily Times it was because he wasn’t answering phone calls and didn’t get along with one of his co-workers. 

The town's current police chief pleaded guilty to throwing a teenager to the ground and threatening to kill her in 2017. He was hired the following year. 

"It's outrageous that we have a situation where we have such a lack of public safety that communities are resorting to hiring people who have the propensity for violence," Melanie Bahnke, a board member for the Alaska Federation of Natives, told The Anchorage Daily Times. 

Additionally, only one officer in Stebbins has received any sort of formal law enforcement training. 

The investigation found evidence of underfunded departments throughout Alaska, reporting that one third of the state's communities have no police force whatsoever. The crisis led U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr to declare an emergency for public safety in the state's rural areas last month.