Red plane on glacier

Public safety/VPSO Program

Project lead
Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB)
Dickie Moto, Mayor (907) 442-2500

Funding needed: $500,000

The Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) Program provides rural Alaska communities with critical public safety support services. Hiring and retaining full-time VPSO officers for each community requires that we supply the officer with sufficient housing. This includes serviceable furniture, usable internet and appropriate household goods such as refrigerators, stoves and cooking appliances. In many of our communities, such as Selawik, we do not have any furniture and the appliances that
do exist are substandard. In Shungnak, there is no usable jail or holding facility, and the officers must bring suspects into their homes if they make an arrest.

Conditions like these in our communities must be upgraded to ensure the best possible opportunity to administer needed public safety services to each community in our region. To meet these needs, we are asking for $500,000 for housing and office upgrades.

Statewide, the VPSO program is forced by the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) to follow a single salary schedule, which puts our region at
a severe disadvantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining officers since an officer will get paid the same working in our region as they would working out of Fairbanks.

We are also asking that the legislature change the NAB VPSO program pay structure to use a system like the Alaska State Troopers, which pays a geographic differential salary. This would allow NAB to pay the same 63% difference that Alaska State Troopers (AST) pays its officers, somewhat
alleviating the inequality inherent in having a single pay scale for the entire state, knowing that living costs in the Northwest Arctic are much higher than other areas.