Nikiski mulling law enforcement options

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- The North Peninsula Community Council is looking for ways to prevent crime in the unincorporated areas north of the city of Kenai.

As a result of sparse Alaska State Troopers presence in Nikiski and lengthy trooper response time from Soldotna, the council is looking into ways to help the state law enforcement officials combat crime -- or take on the fight themselves.

Trooper Lt. Tom Bowman met with the council this week to address concerns about trooper presence and to make suggestions for how residents can protect their property.

Community members told Bowman they might like to become actively involved in law enforcement.

''Has the possibility of trooper reserves ever been discussed in law enforcement circles in this state?'' asked Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Gary Superman of Nikiski. ''A lot of the other states have them. Is that a possibility in our scenario?''

Bowman said a reserve plan is feasible but depends on proper training of reservists to save the state from liability issues.

''The way you beat liability is through training,'' Bowman said. ''We have trainers here that train our troopers. There's no reason you couldn't train citizens. The problem is, what are they going to do? You don't necessarily want them riding around out there by themselves.''

The council asked North Kenai resident Ann Krogseng to begin researching the possibility of state funding for reserve troopers in the area. She will present her findings to the February meeting.

But council members asked Bowman what they could do to curtail criminal behavior in the meantime.

''What can we do?'' resident Patrick Heath asked. ''We have private land, private property, private roads. What can we do to stop people from coming down there?''

Bowman suggested initiating a neighborhood watch as the best answer to crime problems.

''Neighborhood watch is a fantastic program,'' Bowman said. ''It gets you to know your neighbors. It sets up some calling blocks where everybody will have the number of everybody around them.

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