Fairbanks' City Council discusses police practices

Federal laws prohibit military personnel from aiding officers

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FAIRBANKS - Police assistance from state and federal law enforcement is up for discussion in Fairbanks.

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The City Council is talking this week about federal laws forbidding military officers or state troopers from helping the Fairbanks Police Department with some responsibilities.

A work session was arranged to help educate council members on what law-enforcement resources are available and how they can be used, said Fairbanks police chief Dan Hoffman.

Hoffman reported to council members last week that federal laws prohibit military personnel from being used for civilian purposes and from regularly aiding city cops in town.

Fort Wainwright soldiers occasionally offer off-duty soldiers who have had too much to drink a ride home, but do not enforce laws, said Army spokeswoman Linda Douglass said.

In another issue, councilman Lloyd Hilling wanted to know whether soldiers and personnel at Fort Wainwright Army Post should be fully counted when figuring out the ratio of police to overall population in Fairbanks.

In the past, officials have fully included Fort Wainwright Army Post's 13,000-plus population as they calculate how many police officers the city needs.

Hilling has challenged that method, but Hoffman has said he believes the military population places an extra burden on local law enforcement since many soldiers are young males in an age bracket most likely to be linked to crimes such as drunken-driving arrests and assault.

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