Alaska Justice Forum Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2000 Pages: 1-7
This article looks at the problem of turnover associated with the Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) program serving Alaska Native villages and discusses why some VPSOs are more likely than others to leave the program.
Information about turnover rates and the amount of time VPSOs spent in the program was obtained from lists of current and former VPSOs published by the Alaska Department of Public Safety. Factors considered as possible reasons for turnover, as suggested by prior research on the VPSO program and by administrators closely associated with the program, were gathered by a self-administered survey of 113 current and former VPSOs. It was found that the problem of high rates of VPSO attrition continued a trend seen in earlier policing efforts in Alaska Native villages. The typical VPSO lasted in a village and in the program for less than a year. When the turnover rate was computed as a percentage in which the number of terminations in a year was divided by the total number of VPSOs employed in a year, the turnover rate averaged 35 percent per year for the years 1983 through 1997. The survey of current and former VPSOs focused on four topic areas thought to be associated with turnover: pay and cost of living expenses, stressors and dangerous situations, training and organizational support, and experiences. Findings showed VPSO turnover was not associated only with relative lack of pay, stressors, or issues surrounding VPSOs Alaska Native heritage. Rather, factors from all areas helped to distinguish between VPSOs who stayed with the program versus those more likely to leave the program. Entrenchment within the Alaska Native culture made VPSOs more likely to remain in the program, the stabilizing force of marriage had a positive influence on the probability of VPSOs staying in the program, and service to the VPSOs home village increased the likelihood of continuing to serve in the program. Overall, VPSOs without strong connections of marriage, family, and culture in the community they served were most likely to terminate their employment with the VPSO program. 1 table and 3 figures
Date Published: January 1, 2000
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