In response to the rise of property crime in Nikiski last fall, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will vote on a resolution Tuesday to ask for a permanent Alaska State Trooper post for the area.
Assembly members Wayne Ogle and Kelly Wolf sponsored the resolution, which calls for state legislators and Gov. Bill Walker to request the Department of Public Safety Commissioner reallocate trooper personnel to serve the Nikiski community.
The nearest trooper post in Soldotna is 40 minutes away. A long response time to a community with two schools in the event of an incident is a significant concern of residents, Ogle said. With the oil and gas activity in Cook Inlet that brings population growth and with it the social impacts, public safety has been a major problem for quite some time, he said.
“We had what the community considers an unacceptable rash of property crime that has deeply affected homeowners that are upset about it,” Ogle said. “We are asking the commissioner to reshuffle the deck and take a hard look at the allocation of troopers.”
During a town hall meeting in Kenai last October, Capt. Andy Greenstreet, Trooper E-Detachment commander, said they use space in the Nikiski Fire Department for one trooper to be stationed to improve response time to the area. Greenstreet said with limited personnel he couldn’t guarantee someone would be stationed there at all times with calls coming in from all over the central peninsula.
Ogle said while he understands the large coverage area the troopers are responsible for and limited resources to canvass the entire borough, he would like to see if personnel posted in a less populated areas like Girdwood, Crown Point or Cooper Landing, could be used in Nikiski.
At the October meeting, Greenstreet said between the five trooper posts in his detachment, four troopers are stationed in Girdwood, three are stationed at Crown Point, two in Cooper Landing and one in Anchor Point.
Nikiski’s population is more than 4,600 people compared to more than 1,800 in Girdwood, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. In the winter Cooper Landing’s population is less than 300 people.
Wolf said the resolution doesn’t ask for more funding or to hire additional troopers.
“Why not protect Nikiski and all the benefit it brings to the entire borough?” he said. “We have three at Crown Point, we can’t get one in Nikiski?”
Nikiski resident Ann Krogsong said she appreciates the assembly listening to the concerns of the community. Krogsong, who organized town hall meetings and watch groups to take action in their neighborhoods, said hundreds of residents signed an open letter to the Department of Public Safety Commissioner Gary Folger that requested a trooper station in Nikiski. She said the reply wasn’t helpful.
“I’m pleased to see our assemblymen listening with a resolution to submit a more formal request,” she said. “I believe there is enough need warranted to be proactive with the potential growth here.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.