At the Kodiak City Council meeting at the end of July the city manager was given the authority to sign a deal with the FBI that would allow Kodiak police to operate outside city limits. It’s part of the Safe Streets Task Force program that is in place in over 100 cities in the nation.
City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski said the agreement was sought to fight what is widely described as an increase in hard drugs in Kodiak.
“It really (has) become a serious problem in Kodiak, not just from a city police, but the Alaska troopers, and it creates a chain of events that are very negative on the community including increased burglaries, break ins and so forth, as well as overdoses, the list goes on and on. So it’s a real problem in our community and a growing problem. Kodiak has become a hub for our region of drug activity distribution point for drugs in our community. And it’s an attractive place for drug distributors, drug gang folks, whoever’s involved in this.”
Councilman Charlie Davidson voted for the agreement, saying something needs to be done about the drug influx.
“I think this memorandum of understanding will enhance the curtailment of this eveil thing that’s eating our children alive, practically. And hopefully this will clean up our streets and basically protect our younger population from the demons of this.”
The program, as Kniaziowski explained, has passed muster with the city attorney and insurance carrier, and any extra work the officers do will be reimbursed by the FBI.
“They will reimburse the city for cost of overtime up to a certain amount. Wer’e not sure exactly what that is. But this doesn’t take away from their regular duties, it just allows them, in the event that they need to pursue and develop a case, a drug-related, gang- and drug-related case outside city limits, they can do that. And they can only do that because they’re deputized as a taskforce officer.”
And that’s a sticking point for some in the community, who feel Kodiak police officers being deputized as U.S. Marshalls is an attack on states’ rights by “federalizing” the local police force. Anchorage FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Donovan said this week that the Kodiak Police officers who participate in the program will have limited powers outside the city:
“The Safe Streets Task Force does not change the jurisdiction of the agency, It only allows those officers to assist federal agencies when there is concurrent jurisdiction, or a mutual crime problem we need to address.”
And Donovan repeated what Kniaziowski said: the mutual crime problem is increased drug trafficking in Kodiak, especially in hard drugs, and especially from out of state and out of the country, two places Kodiak Police officers have not jurisdiction.