2/12/14 DPS PR #14-007
DPS Highlighting Snowmachine Safety
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – The Department of Public Safety is emphasizing the importance of Snowmachine Safety to encourage outdoor enthusiasts to make smart decisions while operating in Alaska’s backcountry. DPS will promote snowmachine safety from Feb. 13 - 23 by airing a PSA.
It’s a great time of year for snowmachine enthusiasts to enjoy the great outdoors.
Create and share a detailed trip plan with someone not riding with you
Check the weather and snow conditions and dress accordingly
Always wear a helmet and ride within your experience level
Respect other area and trail users and pass with care
Never consume alcohol (or drugs) when planning to ride
- Remember, the best rides are those from which you make it home safely
By following these easy suggestions, you can help keep yourself safe.
To view the PSA, go to http://youtu.be/ufpC6oVdM04
PDF version of the release
2/03/14 DPS PR #14-006
DPS Awaits Final Determination on Helo-1 Crash
The Alaska Department of Public Safety considers its employees its most valuable asset, and the people it serves its most precious commodity. On March 30, 2013, Alaska suffered a huge loss when an Alaska State Trooper, a state pilot and a citizen were killed in the crash of the department’s helicopter, Helo-1, near Talkeetna. The department has always fostered aviation safety, however, in the aftershock of this tragedy, the department has since examined its aviation practices to help ensure that families will never have to go through this again. After the crash, the department has worked with the National Transportation Safety Board to determine a cause, which has yet to be determined.
The department has a dedicated staff of professional aviators and trained aviation specialists who continue to improve on safety programs and confirm they’re in line with the best industry practices. The aircraft section, which operates under the Division of Alaska Wildlife Troopers, provides the department with aircraft that are safe and dependable to complete their patrols, search and rescues and other law enforcement assignments in vast distances and a harsh environment. The aircraft section has 43 aircraft and over 50 pilots, both commissioned troopers and civilians, that average a total of about 6,500 flying hours each year. Plus, there are mechanics that maintain aircraft above industry standards. One of the major priorities of the aircraft section is to promote a safety conscious atmosphere.
With its review of aircraft operations, the department is ensuring it is operating with the best practices in the industry and strives to set an example for law enforcement aviation safety. DPS will examine the mission risk assessments and mission briefings before taking flight. Pilots will ensure a set of guidelines, that may include supervisory or management approval, are met before launching.
In addition, the department looked at its standardized aviation training programs. Part of the training restructuring will be developed to further meet the challenges of Alaska State Troopers’ unique mission, and the extreme weather and unforgiving environment in Alaska.
Since the crash, the department made some changes to its safety management system to include installing real time satellite tracking devices in its aircraft and creating a new position in the aviation section for a safety officer. This new position will oversee the general safety of daily DPS aviation operations statewide. Additionally, a new commissioned lieutenant was assigned to fill the position of commander overseeing the aircraft section. Both the lieutenant and the aircraft section supervisor have extensive backgrounds in aviation in Alaska. Meanwhile, the department will continue developing safety standards within FAA guidelines and work with Medallion Foundation to enhance aviation safety.
Because the department realizes that aviation safety is an integral part of the service it provides to the citizens of Alaska, we continue to be committed to having a robust safety culture. The department strives to ensure it does not suffer another aviation tragedy. As we carry on this endeavor, our hearts go out to the families as they continue to cope with the loss of their loved ones.
PDF version of the release
01/29/14 DPS PR #14-005
Big Game Guiding Business Owner Pleads Guilty To Multiple Charges
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – A big game guiding business owner pleaded guilty on Jan. 24 to multiple guiding violations stemming from a series of hunts in different parts of Alaska in 2010. Michael C. Vanning, 45, of Verdale, Wash., entered into a plea agreement with the Department of Law, Office of Special Prosecution, for multiple misdemeanor charges that had been filed separately in several jurisdictions – Kotzebue, Fort Yukon, Fairbanks and Sand Point courts – over two years. Vanning pleaded guilty to multiple registered guide-outfitter related offenses including wanton waste by a guide, fail to salvage game and failure to supervise and participate in contracted hunts with clients and assistant guides in the Fort Yukon and Kotzebue cases. In the agreement, Vanning’s registered guide-outfitter license is permanently revoked. Vanning was also fined $90,000 with $80,000 suspended, and placed on probation for 10 years where Vanning is prohibited from hunting, guiding or outfitting. Vanning’s hunting privileges were revoked for a total of 12 years from the combined charges. The state agreed to dismiss the Sand Point and Fairbanks cases accusing him of guiding a hunt on private land, failing to report a violation and possessing or transporting illegal taken game in return for guilty pleas in the Fort Yukon and Kotzebue cases.
Vanning owned Gateway Guiding Inc. and had operated sheep hunts in the Brooks Range, brown bear hunts in Western Alaska and moose hunts near the Seward Peninsula. This is Vanning’s third guide related sentence. The first was in 1998 when Vanning was charged with guiding outside his use area and placed on probation for two years. The second was in 2007 where multiple violations related to a client taking a sublegal sheep, use of a non-commercial pilot for hunter transporting and guiding outside Vanning’s use area. In April of 2011, Vanning’s registered guide-outfitter license was revoked for two years and his plane, a PA-18 Supercub, was forfeited.
Vanning’s father, Michael H. Vanning, 65, worked for the business as a guide. In January 2011, the elder Vanning was sentenced to pay $2,500 and his registered guide-outfitter license was revoked for charges related to altering sublegal sheep horns to make them appear legal and for submitting accompanying paperwork with false information.
These investigations were conducted over several years by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers in multiple areas of the state.
PDF version of the release