The village of Dot Lake has hired a police officer to help deal with its rampant meth problem.

Tribal Officer Morgan Thompson will serve in Dot Lake as a fully recognized federal law enforcement officer with the weight of the tribal courts and the U.S. Department of Justice behind him, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Dot Lake Village Council.

Dot Lake is located on the Alaska Highway between Tok and Delta Junction and has a winter population of roughly 30 to 40 people. According to village council President Tracey Charles-Smith, the rate of meth use by resident tribal members jumped from 30% in 2013 to about 80% in 2019. Tribal leaders became so concerned about drug dealers entering the village during the state-mandated COVID-19 intrastate travel ban last spring that they temporarily blocked a road and placed guards at other access points.

Charles-Smith hopes the hiring of a tribal police officer will bring a positive change to the village.

“We have been in the process of trying to eradicate the problems of illegal narcotics in the village over the past several years, and due to the negative impact the drugs have had on the village residents and surrounding community, we felt the only way left to combat the issue is to bring law enforcement into the community to ensure the safety and well being of our residents,” Charles-Smith said in the release.

Thompson previously served as a K9 deputy at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in Syracuse, Kansas and has more than 10 years of experience in law enforcement, security and narcotics investigations. Thompson has had extensive training with the DEA, the Kansas Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Defense’s Multi-jurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training program.

The village council would like to get a full-time K9 officer to work with Thompson and is “exploring ways” to make that happen, according to the release.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.