Governor Announces New Direction
for Department of Public Safety;
Responds to allegations of
July 20, 2008
Governor Sarah Palin and Public Safety Commissioner Chuck Kopp
on Saturday outlined a new direction for the Alaska Department
of Public Safety. The Governor has directed Commissioner Kopp
to focus on working cooperatively with state agencies, the military
and other entities to expand the pool of applicants to fill vacant
trooper positions and formulate an action plan to deal with rural
Commissioner 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 as a reserve officer
for three 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. He was appointed by the
Governor as the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety
on July 14, 2008
"I am committed to bringing a balanced managerial and leadership
perspective to the Department of Public Safety," said Kopp.
"I will help form and then carry out the policy set forth
by the Office of the Governor and meet the mission and needs
of the department."
"I have high expectations and confidence in Commissioner
Kopp's ability to lead the department in this new direction,"
Governor Palin said. "His willingness to think outside the
box and find new ways to work cooperatively with state agencies
will improve the public safety of all Alaskans."
Regarding allegations that
the Governor acted improperly, she responded to the allegations
in a prepared statement Thursday.
"As governor, I expect a certain amount of criticism. When
I took the oath of office, I even encouraged Alaskans to ask
me questions, to hold me accountable. But some critics have taken
this to ridiculous extremes that threaten to distract from the
vital business currently facing the state and its residents."
Palin said, "To allege that I, or any member of my family,
requested, received or released confidential personnel information
on an Alaska State Trooper, or directed disciplinary action be
taken against any employee of the Department of Public Safety,
is, quite simply, outrageous." She said, "Any information
regarding personnel records came from the trooper himself. I
question the timing of these false allegations. It is unfortunate,
as we seek to address a growing energy crisis in this state,
that this matter has been raised now."
"I do not interfere with the day-to-day operations of any
department. Former Commissioner Monegan was not released due
to any actions or inaction related to personnel issues in his
department." Pail said, "We had hoped the former commissioner
would have stayed in state service to help fight alcohol-related
crime. We offered him the position of executive director of the
Alcoholic Beverage Control board and, unfortunately, he turned
Pail said, "I have and will continue to support our line
troopers. They have my utmost respect." She said, "Since
taking office, I have proposed to the legislature millions of
dollars in budget increases for more troopers, equipment and
training. My administration just completed contract negotiations
providing increased wages and other benefits."
"Nothing will distract me from improving public safety,"
said Governor Palin. "Commissioner Kopp shares my vision
for filling vacant positions and reducing crime across the state."
"The Department of Public Safety is a professional organization.
We have good men and women protecting our families. Troopers
are our first line of defense and will always have my full support,"
Highlights of the plan announced
- Efficiently using trooper
resources and filling vacancies. One example is to reclassify
existing open trooper job positions to job classes (Court Services
and investigative support positions) that are more easily filled,
allowing troopers to carrying out a full range of public safety
- Comprehensively review the
issues of alcohol and drug abuse and crime, particularly in rural
Alaska. Additionally, consider adding manpower for alcohol and
drug interdiction efforts.
- Cooperatively work with state
and federal agencies and other entities as part of a multi-agency
effort that focuses on outreach, education, treatment and prevention,
and law enforcement as part of an answer to alcohol and drug
abuse prevention problems in rural Alaska.
- Establish strong lateral communications
between departments to accomplish the mission of each department
and to assist those agencies in meeting their missions.
- Establish a recruiting effort
focusing on returning National Guard troops and other military
service members, VPSO's and Alaska Natives.
- Increase training for troopers
- Propose legislation that will
slow the flow of alcohol to rural Alaska, particularly communities
that have voted to restrict alcohol. One example would be reducing
the amount of alcohol that can be shipped by written orders into
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