It’s no secret that the Department of Public Safety is in need of dedicated public servants to fill the Alaska State Trooper and Alaska Wildlife Trooper ranks. With several dozen current vacancies and many retirements on the horizon, the urgency has never been greater to attract, hire and train qualified applicants. The DPS Recruitment Unit’s efforts have been nothing less than tireless. The personnel have attended 37 separate job fairs, or similar functions, in public venues during the past six months.
The hard work is beginning to pay off, and the number of initial applications for the State Trooper job class has risen from 111 for the Fall-2017 academy to 297 for Spring-2018 and a whopping 700+ projected for the Fall-2018 class. However, when it comes to recruitment, it isn’t all about the numbers: finding qualified applicants is more important and that hasn’t been quite as easy.
“We don’t hire perfect people,” said Lieutenant Derek DeGraaf, recruitment unit supervisor. “We hire people from all walks of life. Some of those people may have made some mistakes but have learned and grown from those mistakes. We look for people with good communication and decision making skills, and those with life experience and a willingness to serve the community.”
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The Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Office of Professional Standards, a unit dedicated to the investigation of potential violations of internal policies by DPS employees, has initiated an internal investigation this week concerning the action taken by troopers during an earlier disturbance call to the Smith residence on 1-1-2018.
The Department of Public Safety takes violations of internal policies seriously, so it is important in any investigation to get the facts correct before reaching any conclusions about what occurred. That investigation is ongoing and may take several weeks to conclude. Since this investigation is about policy violations, these are personnel matters that are confidential by law.
The Department of Public Safety has a comprehensive 21 page policy concerning investigating incidents of Domestic Violence. That policy requires an arrest once probable cause has been establish in situations where the victim is placed in fear by words, conduct and/or is hurt by the aggressor. That policy was last updated in 2011 and, at my direction, is currently being reviewed to ensure it is up to date.
An Alaska State Trooper did conduct a traffic stop on Mr. Smith late on New Year’s Eve. Mr. Smith successfully completed the requested field sobriety tests, so the decision not to arrest was made and that was relayed to him. Concerned about the level of impairment the Trooper then additionally requested a voluntary field breathe test and Mr. Smith complied. The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) results are not admissible in court as to the level of intoxication, so Mr. Smith was provided a ride home. Such practices are discretionary and within our policy.
Any additional details into this incident could compromise the legal or personnel action that may occur.
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(Yakutat, Alaska) - Alaska is a sportsmen's paradise. Each year hundreds of thousands of fisherman from around the world descend on Alaska’s pristine waters in hopes of landing that barn-door halibut, record king or simply fill their freezers for the long winter ahead. In 2016 alone, over half a million sporting fishermen traveled here just to catch that one special fish. Sales of sport fishing licenses and king stamps in 2016 generated revenue in Alaska exceeding $20 million dollars. Truly, Alaska’s fisheries are something worth protecting.
There’s an estimated 3,385 registered sport fishing guides licensed in Alaska who are there to take you on that fishing trip of a lifetime. According to state regulations, fishing guides are forbidden to aide a client in a violation, they are mandated to prevent violations committed by clients and must report violations they witness to the department. In some instances saltwater sport fishing guides are required to follow rules and regulations outlined by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Sport fishing guides are further required to record and submit to the department a record of all fish their clients catch in a logbook. Timely and accurate reporting allows the department to effectively manage Alaska’s fisheries for future generations.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Wildlife Investigations Unit (WIU), routinely police sport fishing guide services to ensure compliance with State and Federal law. WIU often operates covertly to gain an honest perspective into the daily operation of sport fishing businesses. So it was during July 2017, that the WIU fished “incognito” with three separate sport fishing guide services in Yakutat. Gross violations of Alaska’s sport fishing regulations were observed during these investigations and charges were forwarded to the Office of Special Prosecutions. By November 2017, these cases were adjudicated in the Yakutat District Court as follows:
Yakutatcharters.com: sport fish guide Kenneth J. Chance, of Yakutat, pled guilty to the charges of sport fish guide aiding in the commission of a fishing violation; limitations for halibut: IPHC or NMFS; illegal possession of sport caught fish; molesting or impeding fish; waste of fish and false entry in a charter log book. Chance was fined a total of $10.000 with $8,000.00 suspended. Chance’s sport fish guiding license was suspended for two years and Chance was placed on probation for one year.
Yakutat Steelhead Inn: sport fish guide Ronald I. Pelissier, of Castroville, California, pled guilty to two counts of sport fish guide aiding in the commission of a fishing violation; molesting or impeding spawning of fish and illegal possession of sport caught fish. Pelissier was fined a total of $12,000.00 with $8,000.00 suspended and Pelissier’s sport fishing guide license was suspended for one year. Pelissier was further placed on probation for a period of one year.
Tidewater Charters: sport fish guide and owner/operator Reginald D. Krkovich, of Yakutat, pled guilty to two counts of sport fish guide aiding in the commission of a fishing violation; two counts of limitations for halibut: IPHC or NMFS; illegal possession of sport caught fish and exceeding the maximum number of fishing lines allowed from a charter vessel. Krkovich was fined a total of $10,000.00 with $8,000.00 suspended. Krkovich further received a lifetime revocation of his sport fishing guide license.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers want to remind all sportsmen that while Alaska’s resources are abundant, they are not limitless. Good conservation starts when each resource user adheres to the rules and regulations that govern our sporting community. This helps ensure future generations get to enjoy the same privileges we enjoy today.
The Alaska Wildlife Troopers would like to thank Assistant Attorney General Aaron Peterson and the Office of Special Prosecutions for their help in successfully prosecuting the case.
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5700 East Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99507
Phone: (907) 269-5511