North Pole Police Department gets much needed upgrade to kick off 2022

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 4:15 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Looking outside the North Pole Police Department, you probably couldn’t tell that inside there is a whole new facility in the works.

Utilizing COVID funds, and funds from the City of North Pole, the department used $1.3 million worth of grant money to make some much-needed upgrades.

City of North Pole Police Chief Steve Dutra says this is an amazing step forward as far as public safety is concerned.

“With the problems that you are seeing in the lower 48, defunding police and anti-police rhetoric, we are kind of seeing the opposite here in North Pole. We are starting to see the community come out and support law enforcement and they have done that in several ways,” said Dutra.

He says operationally this is going to make a huge impact and allow the workflow to happen more efficiently in a cleaner environment that is critical to make sure everyone is safe and healthy.

“It gives us the ability to control the environment that we are working in,” Dutra added.

The separation of the wing gives those who work in the department room to not be exposed to those they bring in. “Dealing with a person who might have COVID being processed for a DUI, that person is processed in a separate area. They are not commingled in the same air space,” he said.

The new wing also gives the officers and staff a place to shower and do laundry, which is something that they never had before. Dutra explained that when officers would go to work, they would have to go home with the work left on them. This upgrade gives the officers and staff a place where they can clean themselves as needed.

Sergeant Smith with the North Pole Police Department added, “It is going to be really great because it gives us some space and more options with interacting with the public and dealing with some of the folks that we have to deal with in a law enforcement context. Especially with recent concerns over sickness and those types of things, it helps us interact with folks in a safe way and it will keep our department cleaner. It also gives us other spaces that we didn’t have before - a couple of locker rooms and some exciting stuff like that, and some space to do some additional training. So it really adds a lot of options to what they already have. We are really thankful for it.”

Now the Department has processing and interrogation rooms along with North Pole’s first and only holding cell.

“We have an ability to interview multiple suspects where that never existed before,” Dutra said. “If we had multiple suspects we would have to leave them in the car outside. We now have multiple interview rooms and we can isolate those folks, and it is kind of nice.”

He says with the influx of people moving to the area and citizens that are passing through the city of North Pole, the city could see the highest population by the end of this summer. Dutra stated the funds to increase law enforcement are crucial for the safety of the community.

The Department has now increased its wages and benefits in hopes of recruiting qualified officers and staff. Dutra says this is the first significant pay raise the department has seen, and he hopes the competitive wages help to bring in the right people.

“We raised our wages and we have a competitive sheet with Fairbanks now,” he explained. “Some of the benefits we offer are better than what Fairbanks police officers offer so we are excited about that, and we are going into the New Year with two openings so we are hoping that those two positions get filled rather quickly.”

Dutra says it has become harder to find people who want this type of profession if the wages are not competitive. “Most of us like me are drawn to this profession because we like to help people, and we believe in people, and the community, and we like to help others. There are a lot of those folks out there but if you are not going to pay them enough and they can go flip pizzas rather than come be a police officer, you have to make them better offers - so that is where we are at today.”

Seeing improvements to this 24-hour facility will keep the city of North Pole moving forward for the department and the future.

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