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Seldovia growing public safety team through VPSO program

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Hope McKenney
/
KBBI
Seldovia Mayor Jeremiah Campbell said the community currently has just one police officer who’s on call 24/7 and also serves as chief of police for the community’s 400 year-round residents.

Seldovia is set to get a Village Public Safety Officer — doubling its current law enforcement team of one. The Seldovia City Council approved the agreement with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association late last month.

VPSOs provide public safety support in more remote parts of the state and fulfill multiple responsibilities in addition to law enforcement, including fire and medical services. The City of Seldovia can participate in the VPSO program thanks to the recent passage of Senate Bill 81 in the Alaska Legislature, which aims to strengthen and grow the program in rural Alaska.

Mayor Jeremiah Campbell said that’s going to be huge for Seldovia’s public safety team. As it stands, Seldovia has just one police officer who’s on call 24/7 and also serves as chief of police for the community’s 400 year-round residents. That population more than doubles in the summer.

If something happens while the one officer is out of town, Campbell said Seldovia has to wait for an Alaska State Trooper to come across Kachemak Bay from Homer to help.

“I think anyone in law enforcement would feel a lot better knowing that there's a backup close by in the event of an emergency,” he said. “That means we'll have coverage when the person goes on vacation and we'll still have coverage when a person’s out sick.”

The City of Seldovia will be the sixth first-class city, out of 18 first-class cities in Alaska, to benefit from the VPSO program.

Campbell said they hope to find a candidate that’s part of the community or who wishes to become a year-round resident.

“We're just excited about getting a contract negotiated and getting it in place,” he said. “And then hopefully, we'll be able to find a qualified candidate that works [well] for our community and get someone over.”

The new officer will be an employee of APIA and will serve the entire community of Seldovia, within and outside of city limits.

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In 2019, Hope moved to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor to work for Alaska's Energy Desk and KUCB — the westernmost public radio newsroom in the country. She has lived, worked and filed stories from California, New York, Bolivia, Peru, Cuba and Alaska.
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