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Department of Public Safety Welcomes Back Joel Hard

Retired Colonel Joel Hard to lead VPSO Operations

January 12, 2022 (Anchorage, AK)— The Alaska Department of Public Safety has hired former Alaska Wildlife Trooper Colonel Joel Hard as the new Director of Village Public Safety Officer Operations for the Alaska Department of Public Safety. The newly created Director of Village Public Safety Officer Operations will work out of the Commissioner’s Office with VPSO grantees to strengthen and revitalize the VPSO program.

“Joel brings a wealth of experience to this new position; as a 22-year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers, he knows firsthand the vital role that VPSOs play throughout rural Alaska,” said Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “Revitalizing the VPSO program is a key priority of the Governor and DPS leadership. Joel has the proven leadership, management, and law enforcement experience to help us hire a VPSO for every community that wants one.”

Joel Hard retired as the Colonel of the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, now known as the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, in 2003. Prior to serving as Colonel, Joel worked in both urban and rural Alaska in various assignments, including patrol, investigations, drug interdiction and enforcement, and command. After retiring, Joel worked for the National Park Service and most recently served as the Alaska Region Deputy Regional Director.

“I’m excited to return to the Department of Public Safety and support Commissioner Cockrell’s commitment to strengthen the VPSO program. VPSOs serve a critical public safety function in Alaska’s remote communities by acting as a first responder to medical, fire, search and rescue, and law enforcement incidents in the community that they live and work in,” said VPSO Operations Director Joel Hard. “I look forward to working with the grantees and along with the Division of Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers to reimagine this program in ways that improve its presence and performance in rural Alaska and elevate its importance within the Department.”

Joel’s first day was January 10, 2022, his position will be based out of DPS Headquarters in Anchorage.