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Turnover Among Alaska Village Public Safety Officers, 1994-1999 (ICPSR 2938)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The study was designed to examine the high turnover rate in Alaska's Village Public Safety Officers (VPSO) program. The goals were to help guide the design of future delivery of public safety services to Alaska villages and to add to what was a limited understanding of policing in places with tiny populations. The survey instrument was administered to former and currently-serving VPSOs from October 1998 to January 1999. Information was collected on the respondent's motivation for becoming a VPSO, length of time working as a VPSO, if the respondent was satisfied with the pay, retirement benefits, training, housing, and safety, if it was difficult for the respondent to enforce laws against relatives, the respondent's perception of the community's support and expectations, and their job-related stresses, role conflicts, duties, and demands. Those who had left the job were also asked about their post-VPSO employment. Demographic variables include the respondent's age, race, sex, marital status, education, military experience, and whether the officer was an Alaska Native.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Dataset - Download All Files (1.2 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Wood, Darryl. TURNOVER AMONG ALASKA VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS, 1994-1999. ICPSR version. Anchorage, AK: University of Alaska [producer], 2000. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2000. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02938.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (98-IJ-CX-0035)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   job satisfaction, job stress, police officers, public interest, public safety, towns

Geographic Coverage:   Alaska, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1994--1999

Date of Collection:  

  • 1998--1999

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Former and current Village Public Safety Officers in Alaska.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instrument are provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Alaska's Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) endure working conditions unlike those faced by others responsible for law enforcement. These officers usually serve in a geographically isolated Alaska Native village by themselves and are sometimes an hour or more away by air from back-up law enforcement. VPSOs are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to deal with the problems that arise in what are some of the most violence- and accident-prone places in the nation. Since 1983, the first year for which adequate records are available, turnover in the VPSO program had averaged 36 percent per year. This study was designed to examine the high turnover rate in the VPSO program. The goals were to help guide the design of future delivery of public safety services to Alaska villages and to add to what was a limited understanding of policing in places with tiny populations. Previous researchers had commented on the relative lack of research about police departments with very few officers. Of the research that had been conducted, officer turnover had been mentioned as a prime difficulty in these small departments. The present study builds upon that research by examining both the amount of turnover in the VPSO program as well as the factors thought to be associated with it.

Study Design:   The survey instrument was administered to former and currently-serving VPSOs from October 1998 to January 1999. Two slightly different versions of the questionnaire, primarily involving changes in verb tense, were developed for currently employed officers and for formerly employed officers. The survey questions were developed from three different perspectives: (1) general police research that focused on the role of job stress and dissatisfaction with salary and benefits, (2) research on the problems faced by rural police officers, and (3) research regarding the difficulties of policing Alaska Native communities using Alaska Native employees. Draft copies of the survey were sent to the regional nonprofit corporation VPSO coordinators for their comments on the form and content of the questions. The draft of the survey was also examined by Alaska State Troopers affiliated with the VPSO program. The former VPSOs were offered $10 as incentive to participate, and both current and former VPSOs were offered a chance to win a $500 gift certificate to Wal-Mart for their participation. A total of 109 surveys were mailed out to former VPSOs during the first week of November 1998. Six weeks after the first mailing, a reminder letter was sent and follow-up telephone interviews were attempted with nonrespondents. A second reminder letter was sent to nonrespondents in mid-January 1999. About half of the surveys of the 75 current officers were administered at one of two regional training sessions held in October 1998. The remainder of the surveys were mailed to the current VPSOs at the beginning of November 1998. A reminder letter was sent to the current VPSOs in mid-December 1998 combined with follow-up telephone calls.

Sample:   Convenience sampling.

Data Source:

mail-back questionnaires and telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Information was collected on the respondent's motivation for becoming a VPSO, length of time working as a VPSO, if the respondent was satisfied with the pay, retirement benefits, training, housing, and safety, if it was difficult for the respondent to enforce laws against relatives, the respondent's perception of the community's support and expectations, and their job-related stresses, role conflicts, duties, and demands. Those who had left the job were also asked about their post-VPSO employment. Demographic variables include the respondent's age, race, sex, marital status, education, military experience, and whether the officer was an Alaska Native.

Response Rates:   There was an overall response rate of 61 percent (48 percent former VPSOs, 81 percent current VPSOs).

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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