Girdwood Trooper post gets a reprieve for now

first_imgThe state department of Public Safety announced Wednesday that the Alaska State Trooper post in Girdwood will remain operational until June 30 of next year. Earlier this year, the Girdwood post was slated for a January 1 closure due to state budget reductions. But this week, the Trooper post got a reprieve.Colonel Jim Cockrell is the director of the division of State Troopers. He says the post will stay open for a few months more.“Essentially the last month or so the administration, our office and the municipality of Anchorage has been looking at alternatives to closing Girdwood down at the first of the year as was originally scheduled. And a decision was made during that time by the administration to extend our service to Girdwood area and the surrounding areas until the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30. Currently that is what we are planning for. We are planning to be out of Girdwood by the end of June in 2016.”One sergeant and four Troopers will continue to operate out of Girdwood. Cockrell says the plan to shut down the Girdwood post was driven by an increase in crime in the Kenai Peninsula.“As you know, in July we lost 27 Trooper positions and five of those came from the Kenai Peninsula and our intentions were to reallocate the Troopers we were moving out of the Girdwood area into the Kenai Peninsula where we are struggling to keep up with the call volumes and most of them are criminal type crimes, versus what we are dealing with in the Girdwood area, which is more traffic related.”The Girdwood jurisdiction also covers the Seward Highway communities of Bird, Indian and Portage, and the Seward Highway safety corridor falls within the post’s area of responsibility.Traffic accidents  are common along the route, and local residents had feared that the shutdown of the Trooper post in Girdwood would result in more of them. Cockrell says three Bureau of Highway Patrol officers will still be assigned to traffic enforcement after the post closes.Although the four communities fall within the municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage Police Department officers do not patrol them, or the highway.The Girdwood ‘s board of supervisors this year initiated a task force that has been working with the city on a way to provide for the public safety needs of the community after the Trooper post closes, although no firm plan has been presented yet.last_img read more