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About the VPSO Program


The Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) program began in 1979 as a concept to address rural public safety. The VPSO program provides public safety services in rural Alaska by increasing response time to emergencies and provide an ongoing public safety presence to rural and remote communities in Alaska. 

A certified VPSO is trained in fire protection, emergency medical assistance, law enforcement, community policing, crime prevention and search and rescue. The presence of a VPSO in a community can have a positive impact on a community.

The VPSO is often the first responder when their community needs help; hence their motto: "First Responders - Last Frontier".

Program Governance

The VPSO program is designed to assist rural Alaskan communities by providing state funding to local nonprofit regional corporations, Alaska Native organizations, or regional municipalities to hire, train and supervise VPSOs. The statewide program is comprised of 10 individual regional programs, referred to as grantees, and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) VPSO support program. A VPSO works directly for the VPSO grantee. The DPS VPSO support program is the state government conduit to the regional programs and provides funding, training, equipment and facilitates coordination between the regional programs. 

Program Participation

Each regional grantee manages their program within the statutory framework of the statewide program. Communities which participate in the program, do so with a memorandum of agreement with the regional grantee's program. . 

How to apply to be a VPSO

Individuals who are interested in becoming a VPSO must apply with one of the 10 VPSO grantees. The DPS VPSO support program requires each VPSO meet the minimum qualifications and the grantee submits the following: 
  • Grantee Job Application
  • Certification of Eligibility Form
  • Criminal Records Information Waiver
  • Two Fingerprint Cards for conducting a criminal history check
  • Proof of citzenship and age (Birth Certificate/Passport or citizenship paperwork)
  • Proof of education requirement (high school diploma or equivelent)

VPSO Training

Once hired, a VPSO is required to complete a training program. At a minimum, the training program must include at least 240 hours of instruction in:
(1) physical methods of arrest, use of batons, and use of chemical defensive weapons;  
(2) instruction in Alaska criminal and procedural law;  
(3) instruction in the Alaska criminal justice system;  
(4) instruction in police procedures;
(5) instruction in first responder basic first aid;  
(6) training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); and  
(7) rural fire protection specialist training. 

Currently, each VPSO completes 1,022 hours of training at the 16 week the Alaska Law Enforcement Training offered at the DPS Academy. In addition to the above topics, a VPSO also receives training in: 
  • Domestic Violence
  • Search and Seizure
  • Interview and Interrogation
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Miranda
  • Use of Force
  • Cold Water Survival
  • Search and Rescue
  • Active Shooter

VPSO Job Duties

A certified VPSO can have many responsibilities and may be expected to perform any of the following duties: 
  1. Law Enforcement
    1. Community patrol
    2. Responding to calls for service
    3. Enforces state laws
    4. Investigate and enforce local ordinances that have been adopted by the Alaska Court System and posted on the Uniform Minor Offense table
    5. Participate in civil diversion of criminal charges to tribal courts in accordance with Department of Law agreements
    6. Investigate misdemeanor crimes
    7. Investigate a felony crime while working at the direction and oversight of an Alaska State Trooper
    8. Assist local, state and federal law enforcement agencies with official matters
    9. Deliver crime prevention and education materials in the community or schools
    10. Provide process server functions assign by DPS
    11. Enforce state law with regard to aggressive animals
    12. Investigate animal cruelty and neglect complaints
    13. If qualified, administer rabies and other vaccines to animals
    14. Assist the Department of Corrections with the management and supervision of probationers and paroles residing in the community
    15. Assist the Division of Juvenile Justice with formal and informal supervision of juvenile clients residing in the community
  2. Fire Protection
    1. Maintain community fire equipment
    2. Conduct fire drills at schools and other public buildings
    3. Attend fire department meetings
    4. Provide training to volunteer fire fighters
    5. Deliver fire prevention and education materials and information
    6. Track abandoned homes/buildings which pose a potential fire hazard
    7. Plan activities for fire safety
  3. Search & Rescue (SAR)
    1. Organize and direct SAR teams
    2. Attend community SAR Team meetings
    3. Act as a liaison for the Alaska State Troopers during SAR operations
    4. Inventory and or maintain search and rescue equipment in the community
    5. Support or assist other entities or agencies engaged in SAR operations
    6. Map of the community, trails and local sites for GPS tracking
  4. Emergency Medical Services
    1. Respond to emergency calls to provide immediate care to the critically ill and injured
    2. Transport the patient to a medical facility for next level of care
    3. Assist a local health care provider with providing immediate care to a critically ill or injured patient
  5. Additional duties
    1. Work with community to set up a neighborhood watch program
    2. Assist elders and other citizens in need
    3. Recruit jail guards from the community
    4. Review and update Small Community Emergency Response Plan
    5. Work with the school to review and update the Emergency Response Plan
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