Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, center, speaks about the House passing a crime bill during a press conference with Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, left, and Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, at the Capitol on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Kopp will be one of the co-chairs of a group tasked with improving the Village Public Safety Officers program. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, center, speaks about the House passing a crime bill during a press conference with Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, left, and Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, at the Capitol on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Kopp will be one of the co-chairs of a group tasked with improving the Village Public Safety Officers program. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Legislature will take closer look at rural justice

Work group will focus on Village Public Safety Officer program

On Thursday, the Alaska Legislature formed a joint working group that will search for ways to improve the state’s Village Public Safety Officers (VPSO) program.

Members of both the Alaska House and Alaska Senate will be on the group, and will aim to compile a list of recommendations by Jan. 31, 2020 to result in effective legislation in the 2020 legislative session

The VPSO program was created in the 1970s to give rural communities important public safety resources. Today, approximately 40 men and women who are employed through the program serve as the first — and often the only — law enforcement presence in many communities.

Turnover is high in the program, and rural communities are often left without any law enforcement. The main focus of the Legislature’s work group is finding ways to increase the number of VPSO officers.

Sen. Donny Olson and Rep. Chuck Kopp will serve as co-chairs, and Sens. Click Bishop and Mike Shower and Reps. Bryce Edgmon (the current Speaker of the House) and George Rauscher will also serve on the working group.

Olson, a Democrat from Golovin, can be contacted through his office at sen.donny.olson@akleg.gov or 465-3707. Kopp, a Republican from Anchorage, can be contacted through his office at rep.chuck.kopp@akleg.gov or 465-4993.

More in News

This photo shows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
CDC freeze on Johnson and Johnson vaccine sets clinics scrambling

The odds of being affected are vanishingly rare, but CDC says better safe than sorry.

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio that tried to get the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data used for drawing congressional and legislative districts ahead of its planned release. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)
Alaska joins 15 other states in backing Alabama’s challenge to Census privacy tool

The case could go directly to the Supreme Court if appealed.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

This photo shows the National Archives in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle that has about a million boxes of generally unique, original source documents and public records. In an announcement made Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Biden administration has halted the sale of the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from people across the Pacific Northwest and a lawsuit by the Washington Attorney General's Office. Among the records at the center are tribal, military, land, court, tax and census documents. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
Biden halts sale of National Archives center in Seattle

Tribes and members of Congress pushed for the halt.

This photo shows Unangax̂ Gravesite at Funter Bay, the site where Aleut villagers forcibly relocated to the area during World War II are buried. A bill recently passed by the Alaska House of Representatives would make the area part of a neighboring state park. (Courtesy photo / Niko Sanguinetti, Juneau-Douglas City Museum) 
DO NOT REUSE THIS PHOTO WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM JUNEAU DOUGLAS CITY MUSEUM. -BEN HOHENSTATT
Bill to preserve Unangax̂ Gravesite passes House

Bill now heads to the state Senate.

The state announced this week that studded tires will be allowed for longer than usual. In Southeast Alaska, studded tires will be allowed until May 1 instead of April 15. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
State extends studded tire deadline

Prolonged wintry weather triggers the change.

COVID at a glance for Monday, April 12

The most recent state and local numbers.

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, April 11, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read