Six Weeks With No Local Trooper Reports: What Does That Mean?

Is The Copper Valley So Safe That Troopers Don't Have Anything To Report? We've Gone 44 Days With No Activity Listed  DECEMBER 9TH, ...

Is The Copper Valley So Safe That Troopers Don't Have Anything To Report? We've Gone 44 Days With No Activity Listed 

Glennallen has a Trooper post in the IGA building. But our dispatch is not local. If you call into the Troopers, you will be forwarded to the Wasilla Police Department – who are acting as dispatchers. Troopers in Glennallen don't talk to the press on the phone anymore, either. You have to call Anchorage's communications department for any local news. 

Copper Valley Dispatch Is In Wasilla, At Least 147 Miles Away Through A High Mountain Pass 

If you want to know what our Troopers are doing, you're free to search the State Trooper information website.

But you're not going to find anything. The last time the statewide Alaska Department of Public Safety State Troopers Public Information Office posted a report about Trooper activity in the Copper River Valley was October 26th, 2021. 

This is 44 days with no entries -- more than six weeks. 

The Copper Valley seems to have gone for well over a month  without a single major public safety problem – in spite of our miles of roads, our 22,000 square mile footprint, our multiple small communities and villages, our many scattered homes, an ongoing pandemic, an opioid crisis, domestic violence issues, and our dangerous winter weather. 

But for six whole weeks, there's been nothing. No search and rescues. No altercations. No unattended deaths. No DUIs. No problem at all, apparently, worth mentioning to the public. This has gone on day after day, week after week. Not a single Trooper posting for our region has made its way into the statewide data site.  

If "no news is good news" then this must be the safest place in America. 

One issue that all Copper Valley people were once aware of  was outsiders' lack of understanding of the communities of the Copper Valley. 

On November 26th, 2021, the one-month anniversary of a lack of current Trooper reports, the Copper River Country Journal called local dispatch -- and got Wasilla. 

We asked about how to get more information on the Copper Valley to the public. 

"Our dispatch handles Copper Center," the responder answered. 

No, we were asking about the whole Copper Valley. "Oh, Copper Valley," Wasilla dispatch said. "Where is that located? When you say 'Copper Valley' where exactly are you speaking?" 

The Wasilla office added, "If you haven't received anything, I would assume you have nothing to report on." 

Tim DeSpain, who works in the communications office for the Troopers statewide, explained to the Journal that same day why there wasn't any information about the region. 

He said that there are "certain criteria" that need to be met for a press release. But, just because there are no press releases, doesn't mean local Troopers aren't out there on the roads, he said.  

"Our Troopers in that region are working as hard as they can," Tim DeSpain said. He explained that Troopers  "have long days, and press releases aren't necessarily a priority." 

He added: "We take the public safety of all Alaskans seriously."

It's not just the Copper Valley, of course, that is not reported on. There are days when only one Trooper-related incident is listed -- for the entire state. 

For example, on Tuesday, December 7th, 2021, the only reported notice of all Trooper activity in the entire state of Alaska involved a welfare check of a "visibly impaired" man in the middle of the Old Glenn Highway near the Butte Laundry Mat. 

That includes every Trooper Detachment in every part of the state -- Bethel, the coast, Nome, the Kenai, Tok, Valdez, Fairbanks...and the Copper Valley. 

If there was one thing Copper Valley people always supported it was public safety. In the 1980s and 1990s, hundreds of local people were fully on board with the Troopers and worked in close contact with them. 

Mothers and dads all over this far flung valley took lengthy EMT classes, formed fire departments, worked with local Troopers on many difficult searches, responded to fatal car crashes and house fires, started a sophisticated rescue system, and stood up staunchly for the Troopers and for the valley's people any time they felt that the Troopers, the dispatch system, emergency communications, or public safety was threatened in any way by outside forces that didn't understand our unique dangers. 

Local comprehension of the problem was stunning. The Copper River Country Journal's first edition highlighted this.

It was October, 1986 when the first printed Country Journal was published. This was three months after the local dispatch system had been moved, part of the time, to Anchorage, and a huge number of locals were not happy. 

In those days before social media and the internet, when the only way people in the valley could communicate with each other was in person, by phone and by KCAM, the local uprising that followed after Anchorage's "remote dispatch" was implemented was dramatic, and effective. 

Over 600 people signed a petition telling the state to fully reinstate local dispatch. One in every five local residents (and that was counting the children) felt motivated enough to step forward for the good of the region on this topic. It worked. For awhile.  

The Copper Valley eventually lost its battle. It became hard to keep a close understanding of local Troopers: how they worked, who they were, and what they were doing... 

Today, in 2021, when you call the Troopers in Glennallen, you can't talk with a Trooper. You end up on the phone with the Wasilla Police Department, which holds the dispatch contract. 

The Wasilla Police Department lies in the middle of a distant, hardscrabble, chaotic city. A different world. 

In Wasilla, "Glenn Highway" means the high-speed multi-lane highway to Anchorage. 

...Not the lonely, dangerous, two-lane winding mountain road to Glennallen -- where there are no guard rails in many places, and boulders drop off the cliffs in front of your car in the middle of the night. 

Their Glenn Highway is not our Glenn Highway. 


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