In response to objections from several municipalities in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has formed a working group to come up with recommendations on how to consolidate dispatching services for the Alaska State Troopers.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety announced in mid-May that it would consolidate all the emergency dispatching services from the Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su valley, and Southeast to a facility in Palmer. The issue has been going on for several years, when the DPS first announced the plan under the Walker administration, though the new center was originally planned for Anchorage.
The working group will include ten members, including a dispatch center manager from one of the affected centers and two borough mayors. Two of the members will represent the Senate and the House of Representatives, though those members won’t vote, according to information from the governor’s office.
Sen. Peter Micciche (R-O), says he’s been appointed to the seat representing the Senate and that he’s optimistic about the workgroup’s members. The process so far has been less than transparent, and the workgroup will include all the stakeholders to facilitate a better outcome.
“I think it has the right seats,” he said. “I don’t know who all the other players are going to be yet. The positions are the right positions, and they’re the positions that were left out of the DPS process as they move toward call center improvements. I clearly am not satisfied at the result internally at DPS was effective, efficient, and certainly not cost effective at a time when the state doesn’t have the dollars to spend or waste.”
Jeff Turner, a spokesman for Dunleavy, said the administration hopes to fill the seats as quickly as possible and is accepting applications now through the state’s Boards and Commissions website. Once all the seats are filled, they’ll start having meetings, he said.
The governor set a deadline of Sept. 1 for the group’s recommendations. Micciche said he thought the September timeline was a little tight, but may not be a hard deadline.
“We’ve got fully functional 911 centers that are serving that population right now,” he said. “I think if we need more time that’s certainly something we can request. I think the governor can support that if we’re not ready for primetime in September. But I think that all the folks who are going to be on this working group are going to be committee.”
The work group’s meetings will be held at least monthly, with the possibility of public meetings at the chair’s discretion.
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