July 14, 2008
"I am pleased to announce the Department of Public Safety will be led by Chuck Kopp," Governor Palin said. "Chuck's combination of decades of law enforcement experience, a tireless work ethic, and strong administrative skills will help address the difficult challenges facing law enforcement in Alaska."
"The Department of Public Safety is facing several tough issues right now, and recruiting is definitely a priority," said Commissioner Kopp. "From initial comments to me, the message was clear last session: The troopers need to improve their recruiting, and until they do, and those vacant positions are filled, the legislature will not look kindly on the Governor's continued operating budget requests for more troopers. We will improve in this area."
About one out of every six trooper positions is vacant and there were a total of 56 unfilled positions in the Division as of June 30.
"The Administration's recent contract offer provides significant pay raises and other incentives that should help with recruiting," said Kopp. "Training is another area where we need to work together with the legislature and convince them to fund the Governor's requests.
"We also have a very serious problem with alcohol- and drug-related crime, particularly in rural Alaska where 80-90% of crimes involve alcohol or drugs. I look forward to actively working with my staff, the Governor's Office, and other commissioners to make progress on this issue. There is no easy answer but an effective solution must involve education, prevention, and treatment, definitely more than just adding troopers."
Kopp began his career as a police officer 21 years ago after receiving a degree in criminal justice from the University of Alaska in 1987. He worked for the Anchorage Police Department for several years before being hired as a patrol officer in the Kenai Police Department. He was promoted to patrol sergeant in July 1993, became a lieutenant in January 1996, and became Chief of the Kenai Police Department in 2002.
Kopp will immediately begin meetings with staff, special assistants, and other commissioners.
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