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.
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 emergencies without delays caused by weather or distance. Although VPSOs are not expected to handle high risk or complex investigative situations, they are the "First Responders" to situations in their communities. Working as a team with the Alaska State Troopers, they can stabilize volatile situations and preserve a crime scene until the Troopers can arrive. VPSOs conduct and complete misdemeanor investigations with oversight provided by the Alaska State Troopers. VPSOs also assist with felony investigations at the direction and under the supervision of Alaska 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 native nonprofits are the employers for the VPSOs in their region. 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 employer, with the concurrence of the Division of State Troopers, selects which communities will be assigned VPSOs
Once the community has been selected, the local community and State Troopers assist the nonprofit/employer with the selection of the VPSO. The nonprofit/employer 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 nonprofit/employer.