Bill Tandeske is the new commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety.
Tandeske will oversee state law enforcement agencies, including the Alaska State Troopers, Fish and Wildlife Protection Division and the office of the state fire marshal.
Tandeske was appointed Monday by Gov. Frank Murkowski. He replaces Knowles administration Commissioner Del Smith.
Murkowski said the new commissioner would be a key player in the administrations' policy of taking a tough stance on crime, particularly targeting bootleggers who smuggle alcohol into dry villages.
"Public safety was a top priority during our campaign (and) we feel there is going to have to be an extraordinary effort to fight crime right up on the front line," Murkowski said.
Tandeske, 49, retired as a deputy director for the Alaska State Troopers in 1999 after serving 26 years.
After leaving the department, he worked for Ahtna AGA Security and Doyon Universal Services managing security for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., as well as Phillips Alaska and BP Exploration (Alaska).
The Public Safety Department has 758 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $107 million. The department enforces criminal, traffic and fish and game law and administers public protection programs, such as search-and-rescue operations. It has a smaller law-enforcement presence in communities with their own police forces.
Murkowski plans to offer a package of crime legislation that he announced during his State of the State address. In particular, he singled out the problem of smuggling in rural communities that ban alcohol.
"Bootlegging in the villages in those areas that want to be dry, we are going to prosecute to the full extend of the law," Murkowski said Monday.
Bootleggers could face forfeiture of airplanes or snowmachines, he said.
Tandeske said combating domestic violence and sexual assault will be other top priorities.
"I think that history has shown that alcohol issues are a root of a lot of evils, and so those become very important in reducing the victimization of individuals," he said.
Tandeske, of Eagle River, will begin his duties immediately, said Murkowski spokesman John Manly. Like all commissioners, except for the Military and Veterans Affairs Department commissioner, Tandeske will be based in Juneau, Manly said.
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