Police Chief Ronda Wallace

Police Chief Ronda Wallace listening in a May 10 city council work session. Wallace and other city officials are talking with the FBI about a possible drug-war partnership. (Photo by Pete Mladineo)

As local drug busts have helped law enforcement gain some momentum in the drug war, a recent city council discussion revealed a new possible tack: giving local police the power to conduct investigations from outside Kodiak.

The city is now examining a proposal from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that would make it easier for local police to step over city lines to assist in an investigation.

Kodiak Police Chief Ronda Wallace told the city council on Saturday that the FBI’s proposal would create a Kodiak Safe Streets Task Force to add federal muscle to the fight against drugs.

The program “deputizes some of our staff as federal Marshalls and allows us to be able to follow our drug investigations further outside the city limits. Additionally it allows us to begin our investigations outside the city limits where we know drugs are being imported. It also takes some of that pressure off of our district attorney’s office that’s already overwhelmed, and when we get these large drug cases, we can take it to the federal level and prosecute them federally,” Wallace said.

Safe Streets Task Force is a national FBI program to help drugs- and gang-infested cities. “SSTFs focus primarily upon street gang and drug-related violence, address specific violent crime problems through the teaming of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors to conduct long-term, proactive investigations,” the FBI’s website said.

In recent months the Kodiak Police Department has recorded several drug busts, including a $2.2 million seizure of methamphetamine and heroin in April, a $120,000 seizure of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine in January, and a smaller heroin seizure last week.

Some council members expressed confidence in the idea, calling it a “win-win” for the police.

“It is a win-win,” Wallace said. “We do currently have Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage who all have their own task force for the same purposes to battle what we’re up against.”

City manager Aimée Kniaziowski told the city council that the Kodiak Police Department was currently “taking a look” at the officer. “So we’ll be developing that and bringing that forward as well,” she added.

The program could provide monetary benefit to the police force. Any time local police help at the federal level, they will be remunerated at an overtime rate, Wallace said.

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