About VPSO Program

Alaska State Troopers and Village Public Safety Officers are both essential but different resources to the Department of Public Safety and the State of Alaska. These two public safety assets are not interchangeable in their roles within the Criminal Justice System or within their general public safety responsibilities. The two are not comparable in their services nor in the commensurate costs that are involved in establishing their availability in the field.

VPSOs in uniform

Law enforcement in most rural areas is the primary responsibility of the Alaska State Troopers. From rural outposts the Troopers attempt to respond immediately to emergencies, felony, and misdemeanor cases. Their efforts, however, are often hampered by delayed notification, long response distance, and the uncertainties of weather and transportation. In communities associated with the VPSO Program, citizens are afforded immediate response to all emergencies without delays caused by weather, distance, or budgetary restraints. Although VPSOs are not expected to handle high risk or complex investigative situations, they are the "First Responders" to all volatile situations in their communities. Working as a team with the Alaska State Troopers, they can stabilize most volatile situations and protect crime scenes until the Troopers can arrive. VPSOs frequently conduct and complete misdemeanor and minor felony investigations with assistance provided by the State Troopers.

Funding for the VPSO Program is provided by the legislature and managed by the Alaska State Troopers. The funds are awarded to participating regional Native nonprofit corporations through grant requests. The primary purpose of regional contracting is to place the local administration of the Program into the hands of an organization more aware of the specific needs of the areas to be served and to deal with a workable number of contracts while retaining a certain amount of regional flexibility. Each contractor, with the concurrence of the Division of State Troopers, selects which communities will participate.

Once the community has been selected, the local community, with the assistance of the State Troopers, is responsible for the selection and the daily activities of the VPSO. The contractor arranges for all salary payments based on the submission of time sheets from the communities. Group insurance plans, retirement plans, and maintenance of full financial accountability of contracted funds are also the responsibility of the contractor.