Legislation allowing village public safety officers to carry firearms unanimously passed the Senate Wednesday.
HB199 gives the non-profit associations that hire village public safety officers the choice to arm them.
"The VPSOs will receive absolutely identical firearms training as Alaska State Troopers and municipal police officers receive," said Sen. Donald Olson (D-Golovin).
On March 19, 2013 Officer Thomas Madole was shot and killed in the line of duty in the village of Manokotak. Madole, who was unarmed, was responding to a domestic dispute. He became only the second VPSO killed in the line of duty since 1986.
Both of those deaths occurred in Rep. Bryce Edgmon's legislative district. Rep. Edgmon (D-Dillingham) introduced the measure shortly after Madole's murder last year.
The bill passed the house unanimously March 10.
Any VPSO who wants to go through the firearms training program will have to undergo a background check and psychological screening.
"It also has de-escalation training, techniques to diffuse situations, so that the use of firearms is avoided," Olson added.
The legislation becomes effective 90 days after Governor Parnell signs it into law. However, a spokesman for Rep. Edgmon's office says the Department of Public safety already drafted regulations allowing properly trained VPSOs to carry guns while on duty.