Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

03/19/2019 08:00 AM TRIBAL AFFAIRS

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08:03:32 AM Start
08:04:09 AM Presentation(s): Rural Public Safety and Justice
09:58:08 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: Rural Public Safety & Justice TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
           HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON TRIBAL AFFAIRS                                                                          
                         March 19, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:03 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Bryce Edgmon, Vice Chair                                                                                         
Representative John Lincoln                                                                                                     
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
Representative Hopkins                                                                                                          
Representative Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                                   
Representative Hannon                                                                                                           
Representative Fields                                                                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S): RURAL PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
VIVIAN KORTHIUS, Chief Executive Officer                                                                                        
Association of Village Council Presidents                                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented on the Village Public Safety                                                                   
Officer program.                                                                                                                
AMANDA PRICE, Commissioner Designee                                                                                             
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Presented  on the  Department  of  Public                                                             
CAPTAIN ANDREW MERRIL, Statewide Program Coordinator                                                                            
Alaska State Troopers, VPSO Program                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Answered   questions  pertaining  to  the                                                             
Village Public Safety Officer program.                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:03:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TIFFANY ZULKOSKY  called  the House  Special Committee  on                                                             
Tribal Affairs  meeting to  order at  8:03 a.m.   Representatives                                                               
Zulkosky,  Ortiz,  Edgmon,  Lincoln,   Kopp,  and  Talerico  were                                                               
present at  the call  to order.   Other legislators  present were                                                               
Representatives Hopkins, Kreiss-Tomkins, Hannon, and Fields.                                                                    
^PRESENTATION(S): RURAL PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE                                                                               
        PRESENTATION(S): RURAL PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE                                                                    
8:04:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be a presentation on rural public safety and justice.                                                                           
8:05:30 AM                                                                                                                    
VIVIAN  KORTHIUS relayed  her upbringing  in the  Yukon Kuskokwim                                                               
Delta   (Y-K   Delta),   her  familial   relations,   educational                                                               
background,  and  current  pursual   of  a  Ph.D.  in  Indigenous                                                               
Research at  University of  Alaska Fairbanks  (UAF).   She stated                                                               
that  she  has worked  for  the  Association of  Village  Council                                                               
Presidents  (AVCP) for  the  last 16  years,  as Chief  Executive                                                               
Officer  for the  last  two years.   She  relayed  that her  work                                                               
experience spans  healthcare and  social service delivery  in the                                                               
Y-K Delta and high school instruction in Bethel.                                                                                
MS. KORTHIUS began her PowerPoint  presentation.  She stated that                                                               
AVCP is  the regional native  nonprofit for the Y-K  Delta region                                                               
in Western Alaska;  AVCP encompasses 48 villages  along the Yukon                                                               
river, Kuskokwim  river, and the  Bering Sea coast and  covers 56                                                               
federally  recognized  tribes.   She  emphasized  AVCP's  service                                                               
area,  which  comprises 23  percent  of  Alaska's tribes  and  10                                                               
percent of  the tribes in  the nation;  AVCP is also  the largest                                                               
native consortium  in the country  with a service  delivery model                                                               
that provides services  to villages as sub-regions  and in Bethel                                                               
as a  hub.  She  shared that the  tribes meet annually  in Bethel                                                               
and can meet AVCP's executive board.                                                                                            
MS. KORTHIUS  shared that  AVCP was the  first contractor  in the                                                               
state to provide  public safety and it is  vested  in the idea of                                                               
public  safety.    She  shared  that  the Village  Public  Safety                                                               
Officer  (VPSO) program  initially grew  but declined  with time.                                                               
She said, "It's  a valid service that we provide,  and we believe                                                               
that it  is necessary in all  of our villages."   She noted that,                                                               
upon  learning that  88 percent  of the  communities in  the AVCP                                                               
region do not have a  VPSO, AVCP and tribal delegates prioritized                                                               
the  issue at  their annual  convention.   She  stated that  this                                                               
translates into six VPSOs for  48 villages, which she referred to                                                               
as a crisis.                                                                                                                    
8:11:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. KORTHIUS  stated that  the region  has VPSOs,  Village Police                                                               
Officers (VPOs), Tribal Police Officers  (TPOs), and Alaska State                                                               
Troopers (ASTs).   She stated  that at AVCP's  annual convention,                                                               
it established  public safety  as the  "number one"  priority for                                                               
AVCP.   She noted that  the VPSO  program originated in  the AVCP                                                               
region; AVCP  held the  first VPSO  contract in  the state.   She                                                               
said, "It's a  real story that we're very, very  proud of because                                                               
a lot of  the solutions that ... work nowadays  have roots in the                                                               
region.   She  emphasized that public safety  solutions come from                                                               
the communities  and were created  to suit the specific  needs of                                                               
the region.   She  relayed that  some of  the current  VPSOs have                                                               
been in  the program since it  began.  She said,  "That memory is                                                               
there and  the intent and the  belief in this program  is real in                                                               
our villages."                                                                                                                  
MS.  KORTHIUS stated  that  VPSOs are  employed  by the  regional                                                               
Native nonprofit corporations, tribe,  or borough.  Contracting a                                                               
VPSO placement  requires a memorandum of  agreement (MOA) between                                                               
the nonprofit  corporation, State of Alaska  Department of Public                                                               
Safety (DPS),  and the local governing  body, such as a  tribe or                                                               
municipal government.   She  stated that  AVCP ensures  that this                                                               
understanding is present in every VPSO placement.                                                                               
MS.  KORTHIUS relayed  that  the program  began  in 1979;  public                                                               
safety  housing  and  facilities  are  provided  by  the  village                                                               
governing body.   She relayed that the director  of public safety                                                               
in  the AVCP  region works  to  ensure that  tribes, cities,  and                                                               
villages  have strong  working relationships  to best  facilitate                                                               
AVCP's provision of services.   She relayed that VPSOs partake in                                                               
a 15-week  Alaska Law  Enforcement Training  (ALET) course  - the                                                               
same as  ASTs -  and must  pass a  background check  and physical                                                               
test.   She  shared that,  going forward,  she would  discuss the                                                               
issues  with  the  VPSO  program  and  implored  the  members  to                                                               
consider how to move forward.                                                                                                   
8:16:01 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   KORTHIUS  shared   that  VPSO   training  focuses   on  law                                                               
enforcement, search and rescue,  emergency medical services, fire                                                               
safety, and  water safety.   These foci, however, do  not reflect                                                               
the true  purview of  a VPSO.   She remarked,   They are  so much                                                               
more than  this. ...  In our  villages, the  VPSO and  the health                                                               
aide are  the right hand and  the left hand of  every community."                                                               
She  relayed that  the  AVCP  region has  only  six VPSOs,  which                                                               
allows one  officer for  every eight  communities.   Ms. Korthius                                                               
asserted  that she  finds it   incomprehensible   that there  are                                                               
only [six] VPSOs available to serve 48 villages.                                                                                
MS.  KORTHIUS stated  that  VPOs are  employed  by the  municipal                                                               
government and the  program is funded by the city.   The TPOs are                                                               
employed by the tribal government;  the program is funded through                                                               
the tribe,  grants, and  community events such  as bingo  or bake                                                               
sales, which indicates that the  program does not have dependable                                                               
funding.  The AST program is funded by the state through DPS.                                                                   
8:19:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. KORTHIUS elucidated  upon barriers to the  provision of rural                                                               
law enforcement.   She stated  that the requirement to  arm VPSOs                                                               
resulted in a  more stringent background check and  that this, in                                                               
effect,  created a  barrier for  some candidates.   In  addition,                                                               
background  checks  can  take  up   to  five  months,  which  can                                                               
frustrate applicants and make the  VPSO career path unattractive.                                                               
She noted other  barriers to recruitment such as  prior drug use,                                                               
family  and community  support, and  the challenge  posed by  the                                                               
possibility  of  arresting  family   members  or  friends.    Ms.                                                               
Korthius  relayed an  anecdote  of a  recent  candidate who  left                                                               
training early  because of the  extended separation from  and the                                                               
distance between himself  and his family.  She  asserted the need                                                               
for  a  new  model  that would  facilitate  training  while  also                                                               
accommodating  individuals'  need  to  stay  close  to  home  and                                                               
connected to their  community.  Ms. Korthius  shared that another                                                               
barrier   to   recruitment  is   the   lack   of  public   safety                                                               
infrastructure  such   as  jail  cells,  office   buildings,  and                                                               
housing, which AVCP  is working to address.  Last,  the nature of                                                               
the  position can  be  a  barrier in  itself;  VPSOs work  alone,                                                               
experience   isolation  in   their   community,  and   experience                                                               
secondary trauma as a product of their job.                                                                                     
8:25:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  asked for  the year  of enactment  of the                                                               
requirement to arm VPSOs.                                                                                                       
MS.  KORTHIUS responded  that  arming VPSOs  began  four to  five                                                               
years ago.                                                                                                                      
8:25:28 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  KORTHIUS imparted  that public  safety is  the "number  one"                                                               
priority of  the AVCP region.   She  shared that, two  years ago,                                                               
AVCP  began  an  information  gathering process  to  establish  a                                                               
baseline  for the  need  of public  safety  and obtain  objective                                                               
measures  of the  problem.   She relayed  that AVCP  subsequently                                                               
wrote  a  statewide  strategic  plan,  created  a  public  safety                                                               
facility assessment, and held a public safety summit.                                                                           
MS.   KORTHIUS   stated    that   AVCP   convened   stakeholders,                                                               
contractors,  the   Department  of   Law  (DOL),  and   DPS,  and                                                               
collaboratively  developed a  strategic  plan.   She said,  "That                                                               
strategic plan is really what's  guiding   what should be guiding                                                               
  the  discussion about  public safety in  all of  rural Alaska.                                                                
The priorities  advanced in the strategic  plan include increased                                                               
communication  between stakeholders  and  the  ability for  every                                                               
community to have  a VPSO, at their request,  accommodated by the                                                               
creation of a "pipeline.                                                                                                        
8:30:56 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  stated that this  priority advocates  funding all                                                               
of  the  necessary  positions  and  providing  necessary  support                                                               
infrastructure.  She asked for  Ms. Korthius to define "necessary                                                               
support infrastructure."                                                                                                        
8:31:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. KORTHIUS stated that this  refers to all equipment, training,                                                               
resources,  housing, facilities,  and community  buildings needed                                                               
for a VPSO to execute his or her work.                                                                                          
8:32:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  KORTHIUS returned  to  her presentation  and  said that  the                                                               
third   priority   advocates   for  stakeholder   discussion   on                                                               
organization,  governance, and  oversight  of  the VPSO  program.                                                               
The  fourth   priority  concerns  the  acquisition   of  adequate                                                               
funding, as  88 percent of  the 48 villages  do not have  a VPSO,                                                               
and  policies  pertaining to  the  provision  of services.    She                                                               
shared that individuals  in the region's tribes  have voiced that                                                               
they are   experiencing ... in  our villages, a crisis  of public                                                               
safety,   which has  elevated the  value of  the VPSO  program in                                                               
AVCP's work.                                                                                                                    
8:35:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked if the  VPSO strategic plan was completed in                                                               
MS. KORTHIUS concurred.                                                                                                         
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked if the report was provided to DPS.                                                                         
MS.  KORTHIUS   responded  affirmatively   and  noted   that  DPS                                                               
participated as a stakeholder.                                                                                                  
8:35:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. KORTHIUS  turned to the  Public Safety  Facilities Assessment                                                               
document, which  AVCP developed  to establish  a baseline  of the                                                               
region's available facilities.  She  relayed that AVCP found that                                                               
38 of  the 48  villages have  existing public  safety facilities;                                                               
four of  the facilities require major  renovation or replacement,                                                               
24  require  renovation  of  some  sort, nine  do  not  have  any                                                               
facilities, and 26  do not have dedicated  public safety housing.                                                               
She shared that  she recently spoke with a  community that sought                                                               
to apply  for a  federal grant;  it didn't  have a  public safety                                                               
facility and, therefore, would not  have received the grant.  She                                                               
emphasized  the need  for improved  public safety  facilities and                                                               
MS.  KORTHIUS  referred  to  the  Public  Safety  Summit  Outcome                                                               
document  included in  the committee  packet.   The idea  for the                                                               
summit  originated  in  the  annual  convention  where  testimony                                                               
addressed  inadequate   emergency  services   and  the   lack  of                                                               
appropriate  personnel to  address public  safety concerns.   The                                                               
public safety summit  took place in the Y-K  Delta; AVCP gathered                                                               
150-200   people  representing   various  stakeholders   such  as                                                               
municipal  governments, search  and  rescue  teams, tribes,  city                                                               
council members,  tribal council  members, and  women's shelters.                                                               
She  relayed that  AVCP collectively  defined public  safety and,                                                               
through  this process,  determined that  public safety  should be                                                               
considered holistically  and in context of  the entire community.                                                               
She imparted that  a discussion of public safety  must be coupled                                                               
with a discussion of the community's other priorities.                                                                          
8:42:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  asked  if a  holistic  approach  included                                                               
considering the  role of  alcohol, drugs,  and other  root causes                                                               
behind  high rates  of domestic  violence and  other issues  that                                                               
constitute public safety.                                                                                                       
8:42:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  KORTHIUS  responded  affirmatively.     She  emphasized  the                                                               
importance of the process through  which the outcome document was                                                               
created, wherein leaders throughout  the region and villages came                                                               
together to advocate  for their community's desires.   She shared                                                               
that the  AVCP region  is divided  into thirteen  units -  each a                                                               
different cluster of villages    these groups convened to discuss                                                               
priorities  and  challenges;  the  outcome  document  prioritized                                                               
issues by  unit.   Issues discussed  include drugs,  alcohol, the                                                               
lack  of law  enforcement,  the decrease  in  the National  Guard                                                               
presence, and  lack of  funding.   The outcome  document includes                                                               
solutions for each unit.                                                                                                        
8:45:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. KORTHIUS  stated that the VPSO  program is part of  the State                                                               
of  Alaska's  responsibility to  maintain  safety  in tribes  and                                                               
"provide equitable safety  to all Alaskans."   She emphasized the                                                               
importance of  establishing and maintaining  partnerships between                                                               
tribes  and  the state.    She  imparted AVCP's  recommendations,                                                               
beginning  with  a  call  for  the  state  to  support  the  2018                                                               
Statewide  VPSO Strategic  Plan.   She  followed by  recommending                                                               
review of  the entire  structure of the  VPSO program  to provide                                                               
greater flexibility  to communities; she suggested  compacting as                                                               
a  possible  solution.   She  also  recommended moving  the  VPSO                                                               
program directly under  the commissioner for DPS and  on par with                                                               
the AST program.  She added,  "retain and fund the VPSO program."                                                               
She ended her presentation and said "quyana."                                                                                   
8:47:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN  asked  for   the  percentage  of  tribal                                                               
citizens that compose the AVCP region.                                                                                          
8:47:59 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. KORTHIUS said that it is approximately 90 percent.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  inquired if tribes have  accessed federal                                                               
dollars to provide public safety.                                                                                               
MS.  KORTHIUS  responded affirmatively.    She  relayed that  she                                                               
recently spoke with  a tribal administrator who  was applying for                                                               
a  federal  grant,  but  the  community  lacked  a  facility  and                                                               
therefore AVCP could not provide the match for the application.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN stated that  there might be an opportunity                                                               
to  leverage  federal dollars  in  partnership  with the  tribes,                                                               
state, and federal  government to fund the program.   He asked if                                                               
Ms. Korthius  was aware of  any general barriers or  legal issues                                                               
preventing a greater degree of cooperation.                                                                                     
MS. KORTHIUS stated that Alaska  is a PL-280 state; she indicated                                                               
that this is an issue which could be discussed further.                                                                         
8:49:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY said  "quyana chuck nuk" and  thanked Ms. Korthius                                                               
for  presenting.    She  also thanked  Ms.  Korthius  for  AVCP's                                                               
investment into the  VPSO program.  She said,   It's very evident                                                               
that this is a number one priority for the region."                                                                             
MS. KORTHIUS said,  "We do support the VPSO program.   We believe                                                               
it's essential in our communities and  we will help in any way to                                                               
advance that agenda."                                                                                                           
8:50:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  shared  that   from  his  prior  experience                                                               
working alongside  VPSOs, he appreciates the  thoroughness of Ms.                                                               
Korthius' presentation and supports  for resolving the challenges                                                               
facing the VPSO program.                                                                                                        
8:51:14 AM                                                                                                                    
AMANDA   PRICE,  Commissioner-Designee,   Department  of   Public                                                               
Safety,  shared  her  agreement with  Ms.  Korthius  that  public                                                               
safety is not limited to  a single function, group, or initiative                                                               
and needs  to be addressed  holistically.  In reference  to slide                                                               
two of  her PowerPoint  presentation, Ms.  Price stated  that the                                                               
overarching mission  of DPS is  to administer  functions relative                                                               
to  the protection  of life  and  property.   Core service  areas                                                               
include:  law  enforcement,  patrol,  and  investigations;  rural                                                               
enforcement  services;  domestic   violence  and  sexual  assault                                                               
programs; statewide public  safety programs; resource protection;                                                               
and highway  safety.  The  following public safety  programs fall                                                               
under  DPS'  purview: the  administration  of  the Alaska  Public                                                               
Safety Information  Network (APSIN);  the state crime  lab, which                                                               
processes all forensic evidence  received from municipalities and                                                               
AST; the  DPS' Division of  Fire and Life Safety,  which responds                                                               
to  arson and  fire  fatalities; and  resource protection,  which                                                               
includes   Alaska   Wildlife   Troopers'  marine   and   aircraft                                                               
divisions.   As an aside,  Commissioner Price shared  that Alaska                                                               
Wildlife Troopers are ASTs with a focus on resource protection.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER PRICE  stated that the Council  on Domestic Violence                                                               
and Sexual  Assault (CDVSA),  a division  within DPS,  is charged                                                               
with providing funding services to  prevent and respond to crimes                                                               
of  domestic violence,  sexual  assault, and  sexual  abuse of  a                                                               
minor.  She referenced slide  three, which listed the communities                                                               
in  which DPS  funds  prevention efforts,  and  noted that  CDVSA                                                               
provides documentation,  information, and booklets, all  of which                                                               
are translated into  a variety of languages.  She  noted that the                                                               
list is not comprehensive and  that CDVSA has provided funding to                                                               
other  communities in  an attempt  to "understand  [and] identify                                                               
the root causes  of violence in our communities.   The prevention                                                               
funding that  flows out to  these communities is often  in strong                                                               
partnership  with  the  communities  and  is  very  tailored  and                                                               
specific  to   the  issues  that   an  individual   community  is                                                               
struggling with."                                                                                                               
8:55:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked for further explanation  on the types                                                               
of community programs that receive funding.                                                                                     
8:55:28 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  PRICE said  that DPS  funds  the emergency  shelter                                                               
program, although  every community receives a  different level of                                                               
prevention support.  She relayed  that DPS funds programs such as                                                               
Coaching Boys  Into Men,  Lead On,  and Girls  On The  Run, among                                                               
others.  She stated that,  in partnership with communities, CDVSA                                                               
provides funding for the community's chosen program.                                                                            
8:56:10 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE relayed, in reference  to slide four, that the                                                               
CDVSA funds  24 victim  service programs,  most of  which provide                                                               
emergency  shelter.   However,  as an  example  to the  contrary,                                                               
Commissioner  Price stated  that Standing  Together Against  Rape                                                               
(STAR) is funded through CDVSA  but does not operate an emergency                                                               
shelter;  STAR,  rather,  provides  services  to  sexual  assault                                                               
survivors statewide.   The victim  service programs  also provide                                                               
safety  planning  and  community-based  advocacy  to  victims  of                                                               
domestic violence  and victims of  sexual assault; a  person does                                                               
not need to be a shelter resident to receive those services.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE  shared, on slide  five, the  shelter programs                                                               
funded by CDVSA, as follows:                                                                                                    
     ? Bethel  Tundra Women's Coalition                                                                                         
     ? Cordova  Cordova Family Resource Center                                                                                  
     ? Craig  Helping Ourselves Prevent Emergencies                                                                             
     ? Dillingham  Safe and Fear Free Environment                                                                               
     ? Emmonak  Emmonak Women's Shelter                                                                                         
      ? Fairbanks  Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent                                                                       
     ? Homer  South Peninsula Haven House                                                                                       
     ? Juneau  Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies                                                                       
     ? Juneau  AK Network on DV and SA                                                                                          
     ? Kenai  Kenaitze Indian Tribe                                                                                             
     ? Kenai  LeeShore Center                                                                                                   
     ? Ketchikan  Women in Safe Homes                                                                                           
          ? Anchorage - Standing Together Against Rape                                                                          
      (statewide support); Victims For Justice (Statewide                                                                       
     support); Abused Women's Aid in Crisis                                                                                     
     ? Kodiak  Kodiak Women's Resource and Crisis Center                                                                        
     ? Kotzebue  Maniilaq Family Center                                                                                         
     ? Nome  Bering Sea Women's Group                                                                                           
     ? Palmer  Alaska Family Services                                                                                           
     ? Petersburg  Working Against Violence For Everyone                                                                        
     ? Seward  Seaview Community Services                                                                                       
     ? Sitka  Sitkans Against Family Violence                                                                                   
       ? Unalaska      Unalaskans Standing Against Family                                                                       
     ? Utqiagvik  Arctic Women in Crisis                                                                                        
     ? Valdez  Advocates for Victims of Violence                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  PRICE stated  that the  programs located  in Craig,                                                               
Emmonak,  Kenai, and  Petersburg  are newly  funded under  CDVSA.                                                               
She turned  to slide six  and shared that sexual  assault, sexual                                                               
abuse of a minor, and domestic  violence continue to be a primary                                                               
concern and  that in Western  Alaska  we experience, as  a state,                                                               
exorbitant rates of crimes of that nature."                                                                                     
8:58:12 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  PRICE stated  that the  AST Violent  Offenders Unit                                                               
was created  in Bethel in  2015; the program  has a focus  on the                                                               
investigation of felony level crimes,  which can be very nuanced.                                                               
She relayed  that sexual assaults often  include individuals that                                                               
are familiar with one another;  a large number of reported crimes                                                               
of  assault  are  "consent-based,"   meaning  that  both  parties                                                               
indicate a sexual  encounter occurred but there is  a question of                                                               
consent.   In  cases such  as  these, forensic  evidence is  less                                                               
supportive   of  a   criminal   case;   therefore,  these   cases                                                               
necessitate specific  training.   Commissioner Price  stated that                                                               
DPS recently  hired and placed  a sexual assault  investigator in                                                               
the  Bethel District  Attorney's  (DA's) office  with the  intent                                                               
that the investigator would work  alongside the DA to  strengthen                                                               
our  cases.   She  relayed  that  DPS  intends  to  hire  another                                                               
position  in  the Interior  that  would  mirror the  position  in                                                               
COMMISSIONER PRICE relayed that DPS  is progressing on the Sexual                                                               
Assault Kit Initiative.  This was  spurred in 2015 by the state's                                                               
audit of law enforcement entities  to capture data on unsubmitted                                                               
sexual assault kits, of which  there were thousands.  She relayed                                                               
that the  state crime lab  is actively processing  the previously                                                               
unsubmitted   kits  and   ensuring   that   real-time  kits   are                                                               
simultaneously  processed.   She  stated  that  DPS has  executed                                                               
several research  projects in  collaboration with  the University                                                               
of  Alaska,  Anchorage (UAA)  Justice  Center;  the data  informs                                                               
AST's policies  in an effort to  improve the manner in  which DPS                                                               
responds to  crimes, particularly in  rural Alaska.   She relayed                                                               
that one  such project studied  the factors that impact  a police                                                               
investigator's decision  to refer a  case to prosecution  and the                                                               
factors that influence a prosecutor's  decision to accept a case.                                                               
She  stated that  understanding these  decision points  and their                                                               
role  in   the  criminal  justice  process   will  improve  AST                                                                 
investigations  and allow  them to  "understand the  factors that                                                               
lead  to successful  referral to  the  Department of  Law."   She                                                               
stated that DPS believes this  research will address concerns put                                                               
forward  in   the  2018  Alaska  Federation   of  Natives'  (AFN)                                                               
resolution  18-11, which  called  for an  investigation into  the                                                               
treatment of  Alaska Native offenders  and victims in  the Alaska                                                               
Criminal  Justice  System.     She  relayed  that   DPS  will  be                                                               
collaborating  with   the  UAA   Justice  Center  to   perform  a                                                               
descriptive  analysis of  death  investigations with  a focus  on                                                               
homicide;  the  intent is  to  determine  if disparate  treatment                                                               
occurs based on race in cases of homicide or missing persons.                                                                   
9:02:46 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE, in reference to  slide eight, stated that the                                                               
AST Statewide  Drug Enforcement Unit works  in collaboration with                                                               
all federal and municipal entities.   She emphasized the level of                                                               
collaboration and noted  that these units are  very successful at                                                               
interdicting drugs and alcohol.                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER PRICE recognized the breadth  of DPSwork   and noted                                                               
the  focus on  the  VPSO  program.   She  stated  that terms  are                                                               
"interchangeably used" in reference to  the VPSO program, such as                                                               
"contractor" as opposed to "grantee."   She stated that the State                                                               
of Alaska grants  funds to the nonprofit and that  this entity is                                                               
the  grantee.    She  stated  that under  a  contract  one  party                                                               
promises the other  party that it will complete  an action, while                                                               
a  grant  is  administered  to an  entity  with  the  "reasonable                                                               
expectation" that the entity will provide the service.                                                                          
9:04:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  shared that  he  has  been informed  from                                                               
administrating nonprofits  that the state  can be a  hindrance in                                                               
the contracting process of the VPSO  program.  He posited that if                                                               
the administrating  nonprofits are indeed grantees,  it "seems to                                                               
signify"  that  they  would  have  more  control,  which  is  not                                                               
currently the case.                                                                                                             
9:05:33 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  PRICE  stated  that  the  partnership  between  the                                                               
administrating nonprofit and DPS is  "necessary and strong.   She                                                               
stated  that the  fiduciary responsibility  of DPS  is to  ensure                                                               
that the  services are being rendered;  therefore, the department                                                               
must exert some control as to  how funds are spent.  She relayed,                                                               
as  an  example, that  one  grantee  purchased $90,000  worth  of                                                               
materials  that were  not utilized  for  the VPSO  program.   She                                                               
emphasized the fiduciary  responsibility of DPS and  the need for                                                               
administrative oversight of grantees' expenditures.                                                                             
9:06:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  suggested that  this may be  indicative of                                                               
the  "fundamental   reasons"  why  the  VPSO   program  has  been                                                               
unsuccessful.   He stated  that he  has heard  Commissioner Price                                                               
say in previous testimony that the  VPSO program is "broken."  He                                                               
then asked  Commissioner Price to describe  how relationships may                                                               
be  strengthened.   He said,  "I hear  repeatedly that  the state                                                               
sometimes is a deterrent, not  an asset  in the administration of                                                               
the  VPSO program.   He  shared his  intrigue at  her distinction                                                               
between "contractor" and "grantee,"  which would imply that money                                                               
passes  through AVCP  and  the state  relinquishes  control.   He                                                               
said, "If I'm not mistaken,  your department has denied someone's                                                               
request to  actually use  that money and  instead ...  elected to                                                               
turn  it back  into  the  general treasury  by  way  of a  budget                                                               
9:07:56 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE  stated that DPS  has not denied  any requests                                                               
for funding of  the VPSO program for any nonprofit  in 2019.  She                                                               
provided  rationale for  her distinction  between contractor  and                                                               
grantee  and   referenced  AS   18.65.670,  which   provides  the                                                               
statutory language that  governs the VPSO program.   She asserted                                                               
her  belief  that  the program  is  "incredibly  challenged"  and                                                               
concurred  with  Ms. Korthius'  testament  as  to the  challenges                                                               
facing the program.   She affirmed that there is  a public safety                                                               
crisis  and asserted  that  the VPSO  program  is not  "providing                                                               
adequate response to address the  crisis."  She stated that, from                                                               
her perspective,  "money is not  going to solve  this challenge                                                                 
she  said  that  the  program  has  had  funding,  but  that  the                                                               
available funds were not put to  use.  She relayed that, to date,                                                               
DPS has  received three  special project  requests and  all three                                                               
were approved.                                                                                                                  
9:09:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  attested that she had  received notification from                                                               
VPSO grantees  that in fiscal year  17 (FY 17) and  FY 18 special                                                               
projects had  been denied.   The denials, which amounted  to over                                                               
$150,000  and almost  $60,000, were  for  training, support,  and                                                               
equipment   items that are  considered allowable expenses.  Chair                                                               
Zulkosky  sought clarity  as  to  Commissioner Price's  statement                                                               
that  special  projects  have  not been  denied  when,  in  fact,                                                               
projects have been denied throughout the previous fiscal years.                                                                 
9:10:00 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE stated  that in FY 19 there have  not been any                                                               
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  stated that  the  committee  would like  DPS  to                                                               
provide  information on  special  projects  that were  previously                                                               
COMMISSIONER PRICE  indicated DPS would provide  the information.                                                               
She  relayed that  she  had  before her  a  list  of the  special                                                               
projects  received over  the  last  several years.    One of  the                                                               
declined  special  projects was  a  fire  truck for  Kasaan;  DPS                                                               
declined the request after finding  that the fire truck would not                                                               
have been accommodated by the road system.                                                                                      
9:10:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  asked for greater clarity  on the decision-making                                                               
process related to  the approval of funding  for special projects                                                               
and if a process exists to appeal those decisions.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER  PRICE  stated  that,  under the  authority  of  the                                                               
statute  that  governs  the  program,   DPS  makes  decisions  in                                                               
partnership  with the  grantees.   She then  referred to  Captain                                                               
Andrew Merril,  who has  been the commander  of the  VPSO program                                                               
for several years.                                                                                                              
9:12:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN  ANDREW  MERRIL,  Statewide Program  Coordinator,  Alaska                                                               
State  Troopers,  VPSO  Program,  relayed  that  special  project                                                               
requests are received  in a few different ways, one  being that a                                                               
grantee may apply at the beginning  of the grant year, each year,                                                               
and select  "request for special  project.   Upon review  and the                                                               
transmission  of  required  information, those  requests  can  be                                                               
granted upon receipt  of the grant application.   He relayed that                                                               
in some  cases grants are  not funded because the  program's goal                                                               
is to hire VPSOs; sometimes,  based on past performance, DPS will                                                               
approve  a  special  project  but   "won't  provide  or  identify                                                               
specific funding  in the grant"  in the anticipation  that lapsed                                                               
funding  from  vacancies can  be  allocated  towards the  special                                                               
project.  In  the situation that there  is inadequate information                                                               
or questions of practicality arise,  DPS does not deny or approve                                                               
the  application or  special project  and  would instead  request                                                               
additional  information before  making a  final determination  of                                                               
funding.   He  stated  that  there is  the  possibility that  the                                                               
project doesn't meet the community's  need or resides outside the                                                               
scope  of  the  VPSO  program.   For  example,  one  organization                                                               
requested  $400,000  in  funding  for a  regional  public  safety                                                               
building; DPS sought  more information but was  unlikely to grant                                                               
funding for a regional building rather than a VPSO placement.                                                                   
CAPTAIN  MERRIL relayed  that grantees  make requests  throughout                                                               
the  year;  this  can  be  accommodated  through  a  supplemental                                                               
request, which  DPS reviews to  ensure that the  project provides                                                               
public  safety and  supports  VPSOs.   If  approved, DPS  assists                                                               
grantees  in locating  funding sources.   Captain  Merril relayed                                                               
that DPS  has Capital Improvement  Project (CIP) funding  that is                                                               
earmarked  for  equipment,  such as  four-wheelers,  all  terrain                                                               
vehicles, and patrol vehicles.  In  the last few years all of the                                                               
grantees  experienced   lapsed  funding,  which   DPS  encouraged                                                               
putting towards projects or large equipment purchases.                                                                          
9:16:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  stated that,  looking  at  FY 18,  DPS  rejected                                                               
funding  requests for  field  training,  sexual assault  response                                                               
training,  pre-academy   training,  and  Drug   Abuse  Resistance                                                               
Education  (D.A.R.E.) officer  training.   She  relayed that  Ms.                                                               
Korthius had  spoken to the  challenge of DPS not  supporting the                                                               
program overall.   She  asked for  an explanation  as to  why the                                                               
trainings were denied funding.                                                                                                  
9:17:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN MERRILL  stated that  he would need  to see  the document                                                               
listing those  funding rejections before commenting  further.  He                                                               
relayed  that  DPS  has  rejected  training  for  sexual  assault                                                               
investigation, because  VPSOs are  not charged to  conduct felony                                                               
investigations; therefore, the training  would fall outside their                                                               
scope of work.   He relayed that, in conjunction  with CDVSA, DPS                                                               
has previously  provided first responder, health  aide, and VPSO-                                                               
specific sexual assault training.                                                                                               
9:18:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  stated that  the justification  given by  DPS was                                                               
that the  rejection was  a product  of budget cuts  or a  lack of                                                               
funds.  She stated that  she would appreciate a reconciliation by                                                               
DPS provided to her office.                                                                                                     
9:19:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP   referred  to  Captain   Merril's  previous                                                               
comment that a  regional VPSO facility was denied  funding due to                                                               
location.   He indicated that there  are a number of  villages in                                                               
close proximity along  the river systems where  a regional office                                                               
could  accommodate VPSO  visits  to several  villages  in a  day.                                                               
Representative  Kopp   sought  further  clarity  as   to  Captain                                                               
Merril's determination that a regional facility was not ideal.                                                                  
9:20:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN MERRILL  stated that  the VPSO  program was  developed to                                                               
have  a VPSO  from the  community, living  in the  community, and                                                               
working  in the  community.   He  referred to  the  AST "hub  and                                                               
spoke"  model where  troopers reside  in a  central location  and                                                               
respond to villages that don't  have a VPSO, police officer, TPO,                                                               
or VPO.   He stated that DPS encountered a  challenge when they -                                                               
in an attempt  to meet the legislature's and  villages  request -                                                               
added 15 VPSOs in a year and  saw a "decrease in adherence to the                                                               
standards" as established in statute.   He stated that the number                                                               
of VPSOs  significantly declined  when DPS received  budget cuts.                                                               
Additionally, the  arming of VPSOs  created barriers  and changed                                                               
the "structure and the functionality"  of the VPSO program.  With                                                               
that increase  in the qualifications  of VPSOs, along  with other                                                               
challenges, the  number of VPSOs have  declined.  To try  to meet                                                               
the  need  for VPSOs,  DPS  "strayed  from the  actual  statutory                                                               
intent" of  the program, which was  to have a VPSO  live and work                                                               
in  the  community,  and  created  rovers.    The  rover  program                                                               
increased the  cost of  the service  due to  per diem  and travel                                                               
expenses  for  a  VPSO.    He relayed  that  DPS  already  has  a                                                               
"regional sub  hub" model with  ASTs who respond to  villages; he                                                               
posited  that putting  two to  three VPSOs  in Bethel  would have                                                               
little difference  from what ASTs  currently do.  He  stated that                                                               
building the  regional center would further  diffuse the presence                                                               
of live-in VPSOs and neglect adherence  to the intent of the VPSO                                                               
9:22:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP acknowledged a  "struggle" over the intent of                                                               
the  program; he  stated  that  AVCP   vision  is  that the  VPSO                                                               
program have a  presence on the community and  regional level and                                                               
that VPSOs  receive broad training.   He shared that, due  to the                                                               
weather  conditions   of  rural  Alaska,  VPSOs   often  have  to                                                               
stabilize  crime  scenes,  whether sexual  assault  or  homicide,                                                               
before an  AST can arrive.   He posited that  additional training                                                               
may  counter DPS'  vision  that VPSOs  are  not law  enforcement,                                                               
rather than  the vision of VPSOs  as  the hands and  the feet" of                                                               
DPS.   He  opined  that there  is "role  conflict"  and that  the                                                               
entities involved find the best path forward.                                                                                   
9:24:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN stated that any  help rural Alaska can get                                                               
for public safety  would be appreciated.  He relayed  that in the                                                               
Northwest Arctic there's a major  difference when a community has                                                               
the  presence of  an AST.   He  sought clarification  as to  DPS'                                                               
different approach to the  diminishing recruitment and retainment                                                               
of  ASTs  as opposed  to  VPSOs.    For  AST, DPS  has  increased                                                               
investments  and  resources  into  the program.    However,  when                                                               
encountered in  the VPSO program,  the solution has been  to pull                                                               
resources  and cut  the program.   He  sought clarity  as to  the                                                               
rationale for this difference.                                                                                                  
9:26:07 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  PRICE stated  that  there's  crossover between  the                                                               
definition of VPSO  and AST, though the  programs are statutorily                                                               
distinct and officers receive  "dramatically" different levels of                                                               
training.  She relayed that  DPS has tried to support recruitment                                                               
and  retention  efforts  with new-hire  bonuses  and  recruitment                                                               
bonuses.   She  relayed that  Captain  Merril and  his team  work                                                               
closely with grantees to determine  how the state can assist with                                                               
recruitment.   One of  the challenges  is that  the state  is not                                                               
recruiting  or hiring  but is,  instead,  allocating the  funding                                                               
received from the appropriation  to the administrating nonprofit.                                                               
She said that  DPS has tried different solutions  over the years;                                                               
she  noted, "None  of these  topics  are new.   This  is not  the                                                               
result  of  one administration  or  one  decision or  one  policy                                                               
challenge.   Rural  justice and  rural public  safety has  been a                                                               
challenge  in this  state since  statehood."   Commissioner Price                                                               
then  stated   that  AST   and  VPSOs   are  two   different  job                                                               
classifications and  that DPS has differing  authority to support                                                               
the  programs.   She  stated that  the  negative supplemental  in                                                               
Governor  Dunleavy's  proposed  budget  still  allows  for  every                                                               
nonprofit  to  recruit  and  hire  VPSOs.    She  said  that  the                                                               
intention  of  the negative  supplemental  was  not to  hurt  the                                                               
program, but  that the  money "wasn't  going to  be used"  due to                                                               
inadequate  recruitment.   She relayed  that grantees  still have                                                               
the  opportunity  to  hire  and that  DPS  has  recently  granted                                                               
$40,000  for   the  development  of  materials   for  recruitment                                                               
efforts.    She  stated  that  it's  not  fair  to  suggest  that                                                               
recruitment is stronger for the  AST program; she attributed this                                                               
to DPS' differing scope of authority between the two programs.                                                                  
9:29:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  noted  that  the  governor's  proposed  negative                                                               
supplemental  is  composed  of funds  allocated  towards  special                                                               
projects,  which are  requested at  the end  of the  fiscal year.                                                               
She  stated   that  the  governor's  negative   supplemental  was                                                               
introduced well before the end of  the fiscal year and that there                                                               
hadn't  been  adequate  time  for   grantees  to  submit  funding                                                               
requests, which  would have preempted  DPS from  "sweeping" those                                                               
funds  back  in   and  reallocating  to  other   programs.    She                                                               
referenced  previous  suggestions   by  Commissioner  Price  that                                                               
responsibility for  the administration of the  VPSO program rests                                                               
with grantees and tribal nonprofits  rather than DPS.  She stated                                                               
that decisions  are clearly  being made that   tie the  hands  of                                                               
grantees,  which diminish  their ability  to effectively  deliver                                                               
the  VPSO program.   She  asked Commissioner  Price to  share her                                                               
ideas  on  how  to  pull  back the  "red  tape"  undermining  the                                                               
program's efficacy.                                                                                                             
9:31:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ORTIZ   noted  Commissioner   Price's   previous                                                               
suggestion  that problems  faced by  the VPSO  program are  not a                                                               
matter of  "adequate resources.    He  then referenced  slide 11,                                                               
which   depicts  the   program's   available   funding  and   the                                                               
diminishing number  of VPSOs.   He stated  that he would  like to                                                               
hear her vision of how to  more effectively use resources to fill                                                               
positions and reverse the decline in VPSO availability.                                                                         
9:33:02 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  PRICE, in  response  to  Chair Zulkosky's  comment,                                                               
stated that the funding pulled  back in the negative supplemental                                                               
is funding  that has lapsed in  the last two years.   She relayed                                                               
that  the governor  thought it  appropriate  to reallocate  those                                                               
funds,  under  the  assumption   that  they  would  lapse  again.                                                               
Commissioner  Price,   in  response  to   Representative  Ortiz's                                                               
question, stated that  DPS does have ideas  for improvement, some                                                               
of which include removing regulatory  control that the department                                                               
currently has  in place.  She  stated that DPS has  not been able                                                               
to comprehensively engage with grantees,  though DPS will provide                                                               
recommendations  at   a  future  meeting;   some  recommendations                                                               
include the  ability for grantees  to recruit based on  their own                                                               
feedback.  She  stated that DPS has ideas,  though the department                                                               
hopes  to  develop  a  comprehensive  plan  in  conjunction  with                                                               
grantees.    She   stated  that  the  department   is  seeking  a                                                               
collaborative  agreement   with  the   grantees'  recommendations                                                               
implemented rather than a plan dictated  by a single entity.  She                                                               
shared that, when  approving special projects, "we  can't see the                                                               
forest for the  trees."  She related that the  intent of the VPSO                                                               
program  is to  hire a  member of  a community  to provide  first                                                               
response while continuing to live  in the community.  She relayed                                                               
that, if  the program were  operating in this capacity,  then the                                                               
acquisition of housing  would not be so "impactful."   She shared                                                               
that challenges are  imposed by how the program  has changed over                                                               
time.    She  encouraged  the  legislature's  evaluation  of  the                                                               
program's   statutory   obligations  to   determine   appropriate                                                               
services and responsibilities  for the VPSO program.   She stated                                                               
that  the regulations  that govern  the program,  which have  not                                                               
been comprehensively  reviewed since 1995, need  to be evaluated;                                                               
as  they  sit,  the  regulations require  that  the  village,  in                                                               
partnership  with the  state, provide  office  space, phone,  and                                                               
utilities.  She  emphasized that there is  "great opportunity" to                                                               
evaluate  the statute  and regulations.   She  further emphasized                                                               
that   these  challenges   have  existed   since  the   program's                                                               
9:36:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  elucidated upon the  challenges related  to rural                                                               
housing     most  of  the   homes  throughout  rural  Alaska  are                                                               
overcrowded, multi-generational,  unaffordable, or  poor quality.                                                               
She  took  issue  with  the perspective  that  paying  for  rural                                                               
housing would be incompatible with  the model where VPSOs are not                                                               
being  hired  from their  own  communities.   She  relayed  that,                                                               
within District 38, five of the  six current VPSOs are serving in                                                               
their home community.  She opined  that the reality of housing in                                                               
rural Alaska  ought to be  deliberated upon as DPS  considers how                                                               
to support  VPSOs.  She revisited  Commissioner Price's statement                                                               
that  the  negative  supplemental  was lapsed  funding  from  the                                                               
previous  two  fiscal years;  yet,  when  the conversation  began                                                               
about  special projects,  there  were two  previous fiscal  years                                                               
with unexpended dollars and DPS'  explanation was that there were                                                               
budget  cuts  or  inadequate  resources.    She  then  encouraged                                                               
Commissioner  Price to  be consistent  with how  DPS communicates                                                               
about the VPSO program.                                                                                                         
9:38:43 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE  stated that DPS  has a deep knowledge  of the                                                               
housing  situation  in  rural  Alaska.     She  stated  that  the                                                               
regulation that  governs and supports  the VPSO program  does not                                                               
require that  villages provide housing.   She stated  that reform                                                               
on behalf  of the  legislature would  provide the  opportunity to                                                               
include that requirement in the statutory language.                                                                             
9:39:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    EDGMON   expressed    his   appreciation    for                                                               
Commissioner  Price's   acknowledgement  that  the   program  has                                                               
multiple flaws and that those need  to be addressed directly.  He                                                               
suggested that structural changes are  in order, which would take                                                               
time and  forensic analysis.  He  referenced Commissioner Price's                                                               
previous  comment  that  VPSOs  and  ASTs  are  in  distinct  job                                                               
classes.  He  noted that Commissioner Price  has suggested before                                                               
that a VPSO position is more  expensive than an AST position.  He                                                               
then suggested  that Commissioner  Price may have  been including                                                               
indirect costs of VPSO employment  and comparing that to an AST's                                                               
employment  without  including  the  same  indirect  costs.    He                                                               
referenced  his prior  experience as  Chair of  the House  Public                                                               
Safety Finance subcommittee  and stated that an AST  is much more                                                               
expensive than a VPSO.   He said that he interpreted Commissioner                                                               
Price's  statements  to  indicate indifference  toward  the  VPSO                                                               
program.  He asked Commissioner  Price to clarify her implication                                                               
that the  VPSO program per position  is more costly than  the AST                                                               
9:41:24 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE stated that she  did not believe she said that                                                               
a VPSO  is more  expensive than  an AST.   She asserted  that she                                                               
previously said the programs are "a bit comparable" in cost.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON stated  that the indirect rate  was as high                                                               
as  48 percent,  whereas Bristol  Bay Native  Association has  an                                                               
indirect rate of  15 percent.  He noted that  one of the grantees                                                               
might be at  the 48 percent range and that  DPS is assisting them                                                               
to lower the rate.                                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER PRICE stated that her  representation of data is not                                                               
to be  interpreted as an  insinuation.   She stated that  "all of                                                               
the prongs"  of public safety  are important, including  VPOs and                                                               
TPOs.  She asserted that she is not indifferent.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON advised that  Commissioner Price choose her                                                               
words "more artfully."   He related that he and  others were left                                                               
with  a   very  different  message  from   what  she's  currently                                                               
MS. PRICE stated that the VPSO  program is only one prong of DPS.                                                               
She said, "I  am committed to rural public safety."   She related                                                               
that  she believes  it  is her  responsibility  to find  adequate                                                               
solutions and that she is committed  to doing so.  She shared her                                                               
belief that they  will walk away with a  "more effective, faster,                                                               
rural public safety response."                                                                                                  
9:44:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  stated that Commissioner  Price's response                                                               
is "all  rhetoric."   He relayed  that the  committee has  yet to                                                               
hear of any  initiative that Commissioner Price may  be taking to                                                               
analyze the structural flaws of the VPSO program.                                                                               
MS. PRICE  remarked that  DPS is convening  the grantees  in late                                                               
April to deliver their plan for the VPSO program.                                                                               
9:45:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked Commissioner Price  to manage her tone.  She                                                               
then  noted that  the  Special Committee  on  Tribal Affairs  was                                                               
established  to  identify   opportunities  to  strengthen  tribal                                                               
partnerships; she  said that tribal  compacting could be  a means                                                               
to "lift some of the bureaucratic  burden" off of DPS.  She asked                                                               
if  DPS  is opposed  to  partnering  with tribes  or  recognizing                                                               
tribal   authority  in   support  of   law  enforcement   efforts                                                               
throughout rural Alaska.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER  PRICE stated  that the  there's the  opportunity to                                                               
cross  deputize the  VPSOs to  enforce tribal  law.   She relayed                                                               
that this  conversation has  been going on  and that  DPS doesn't                                                               
have  a specific  position  on the  change.   Commissioner  Price                                                               
apologized for her tone.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  asked  if  there  has  been  collaboration  with                                                               
grantees that are currently deploying the VPSO program.                                                                         
COMMISSIONER PRICE deferred the question to Captain Merril.                                                                     
9:47:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN  MERRIL  stated  that  the  department  meets  with  VPSO                                                               
coordinators  on  a  regular  basis  and  that  there's  been  an                                                               
increase in communication  in recent years.  He  noted that there                                                               
are  structural  challenges in  the  department's  vision of  the                                                               
program's needs; DPS  is a law enforcement  organization, but the                                                               
department has to consider other  models, look at fire safety and                                                               
EMS,  and  discuss  housing  issues.    While  working  with  the                                                               
regions' coordinators,  the department  regularly tries  to solve                                                               
the  programs'   problems  and  have  restructured   meetings  to                                                               
accommodate brain storming sessions.   He noted the collaborative                                                               
nature  of his  relationships  with the  coordinators and  stated                                                               
that  they  don't always  see  eye-to-eye  but work  together  to                                                               
develop solutions.   He noted that there  are struggles regarding                                                               
the  structure  of  the  VPSO   program.    He  stated  that  the                                                               
department   collaborates  regularly   with  grantees,   conducts                                                               
quarterly  reviews, conducts  site visits  for each  grantee, and                                                               
assists the grantee with applying for federal grants.                                                                           
9:51:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked  for more specificity on  which grantees DPS                                                               
has communicated with about the meeting convening in late April.                                                                
CAPTAIN MERRILL stated  that his staff worked  with Jason Wilson,                                                               
the  coordinator and  point of  contact, to  develop the  agenda,                                                               
which will be provided to all of the grantee coordinators.                                                                      
9:52:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN  stated  that  Administrative  Order  300                                                               
requires every  department to implement a  consultation plan with                                                               
tribes  through a  tribal  liaison.   He inquired  if  DPS has  a                                                               
tribal liaison.                                                                                                                 
9:52:41 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE stated  that she believes DPS does  not have a                                                               
tribal liaison.                                                                                                                 
9:52:56 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  stated that she  received information  that Jason                                                               
Wilson has  not met with DPS.   She requested clarity  and follow                                                               
up to ensure that those  conversations are occurring.  Concerning                                                               
the  discussion of  indirect rates,  Chair  Zulkosky referred  to                                                               
comments  made  by  Commissioner   Price  about  a  variation  of                                                               
indirect rates and her suggestion of  an indirect rate as high as                                                               
48 percent.   She  referred to a  previous presentation  given to                                                               
the  committee  and stated  that  there  is  a  state cap  of  30                                                               
9:53:50 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE stated that there is  not a cap of 30 percent.                                                               
She stated that legislative language  was put forward that stated                                                               
that the average  indirect rate of the program  should not exceed                                                               
30  percent.    She  relayed   that  each  grantee  is  currently                                                               
compensated  for its  full  federally  negotiated indirect  rate.                                                               
She said that one of the  challenges of the indirect rate is that                                                               
the  staff has  to determine  how to  award funding  to keep  the                                                               
program's average  indirect rate below  30 percent.   She relayed                                                               
concern  that DPS  may have  been unable  to award  funding to  a                                                               
grantee  with  a  higher   federally  negotiated  indirect  rate,                                                               
because it would increase the VPSO program's average.                                                                           
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  stated  that  at   a  previous  meeting  it  was                                                               
presented  that all  of the  grantees that  qualify for  the VPSO                                                               
program remain under the 30 percent indirect cap as a group.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER PRICE concurred with Chair Zulkosky's assessment.                                                                  
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  requested  that Commissioner  Price,  in  future                                                               
meetings,  abstain from  suggesting  that a  48 percent  indirect                                                               
rate is  being paid  out.   She asked  Commissioner Price  if she                                                               
understood that  this could generate  a source of  confusion when                                                               
the nonprofit group is staying under 30 percent.                                                                                
9:56:03 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  PRICE relayed  that she  believes it's  challenging                                                               
because  DPS  is unable  to  award  money  to  a grantee  if  the                                                               
grantee's indirect  rate brings  the group over  the "cap."   She                                                               
stated that the  language can be confusing, but DPS  does pay the                                                               
full indirect rate to the grantees.                                                                                             
CHAIR ZULKOSKY stated  that it does not appear  as confusion when                                                               
Commissioner  Price  suggested   in  House  Finance  subcommittee                                                               
meetings that indirect  rates are paid out at   40 percent  when,                                                               
in fact, tribal  nonprofits are not paying more  than 30 percent.                                                               
She  concurred with  Representative Edgmon's  concern that  there                                                               
would be insinuation  that there's something wrong  with the VPSO                                                               
program  or   that  it's   too  expensive.     She   relayed  her                                                               
appreciation  for  Commissioner   Price  taking  the  committee's                                                               
questions and hearing  the committee's concern.   She pressed the                                                               
imperative nature of the VPSO  program's solvency.  She said that                                                               
providing  six   VPSOs  for  a   region  of  48   communities  is                                                               
"incomprehensible," given that DPS is  required to provide public                                                               
safety throughout rural Alaska.                                                                                                 
9:58:08 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Tribal Affairs  meeting  was adjourned  at                                                               
9:58 a.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
AVCP Rural Public Safety.pdf HTRB 3/19/2019 8:00:00 AM
DPS Tribal Affairs Committee Presentation 03.19.19.pdf HTRB 3/19/2019 8:00:00 AM
AVCP VPSO Strategic Plan.pdf HTRB 3/19/2019 8:00:00 AM