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Village Safety Officers
ANCHORAGE, AK- House Bill 199, a bill that would allow village public safety officers to carry firearms while on duty, was moved through the House Finance Committee Tuesday.
Representative Bryce Edgmon proposed the bill after the tragic loss of a VPSO on duty just outside of Dillingham last March.
"I was traveling back to Dillingham soon after the tragedy occurred and had the opportunity to talk to a couple of VPSO's who were at the airport and heard from them about the regular dangers they are encountered with," says Rep. Bryce Edgmon
"Primarily alcohol related incidents, assault type situations, situations where people are out of control and need to be brought back to a point where they are controlled," said Sgt. Leonard Wallner.
Because of the violent nature of the types of situations VPSO's respond to, most VPSO's think that carrying a gun would at least even the playing field.
"I would say 90 percent or more of the feedback we have gotten on this bill to arm VPSO's has been strongly in favor. They are passionate about urging us to push the bill through," said Rep. Edgmon.
"I would say majority of current VPSO's are interested indeed in carrying a firearm," said Sgt. Wallner.
Although there has been some opposition over the bill, if passed, on whether or not Village Public Safety Officers would be adequately trained, something Rep. Edgmon thinks is a misconception.
"The bill doesn't mandate anything, it just opens up the opportunity for VPSO's to be armed in particular communities as long as that VPSO goes through the rigorous training public safety would require them to do before they would be allowed to carry a firearm."
Next, HB 199 will go through to the rules committee for scheduling on the House floor.