Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) Project
The VPSO Project is a Department of Corrections and Public Safety cooperative effort involving using VPSOs to assist the probation officer with supervision of offenders. VPSOs provide regular contact with probationers and parolees in rural communities that do not have a resident Probation Officer. Annual VPSO training is sponsored by the Department of Corrections. DOC coordinates with the Department of Public Safety to incorporate probation and parole training into the VPSO academy.
It is very difficult for a probation officer to have face to face contact with offenders on probation & parole supervision due the rural nature of many Alaskan communities. Village Public Safety Officers have assisted DOC probation officers (PO) with rural offender supervision for many years. In 1999, the DOC and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation started a pilot project to train and utilize VPSOs for parole and probation supervision in the village.
In July 2001 Governor Knowles signed into law Senate Bill 175 that specifically authorized VPSOs to act as agents for probation & parole officers. They do not have the authority to act as a PO, but only assist under a PO's direction. Under a PO's direction, VPSOs can conduct searches, drug testing, field visits, arrest for violations, and be a contact for victims.
As a result, regional non-profit native corporations, the Alaska State Troopers, and the Department of Corrections have begun a partnership to train and utilize VPSOs to assist with parole and probation supervision in rural communities. The VPSO Project's objectives are to coordinate probation & parole training, act as liaison among the participants, and oversee VPSO supervision of offenders.