A large group of officials that frequently interact with potentially dangerous and harmful individuals will soon have the opportunity to remove personal information from the borough’s online property database and map viewers.
Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, emergency medical and rescue personnel, and corrections, probation and parole officers will have the option to remove their names and addresses from the database, pursuant to an ordinance passed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly on Thursday.
Scrubbed information will still be available via public records request.
As stated in the ordinance, public access of personal information “puts their personal safety, and that of their families, at risk.”
Requiring a public records request “may allow for a cool-down period ... potentially saving the lives of these public servants and their families,” the ordinance states.
The changes will go into effect Aug. 15, and requests must be submitted on borough-approved forms with proof of employment, retirement status and other information.
Ordinance co-sponsor Andrew Gray noted that elected officials are not given the option to remove information.
“I want to clear up some misconceptions. One is this would include elected officials, such as us, and it does not,” Gray said.
Another co-sponsor, Assemblyman and Presiding Officer Matt Cooper, explained the ordinance “creates one more barrier to people taking those drastic steps in the heat of the moment.”
Assemblyman Aaron Lojewski was the only vote against the ordinance, citing his belief that it’s unfair to offer certain people special privileges.
“There’s no way we can add enough people with this to make it complete. … There’s just an endless list,” Lojewski said.
Many assembly members said they would like to offer the exemption to more people, possibly even all borough residents, but acknowledged the difficulty posed by such an undertaking.
The office of Mayor Bryce Ward also opposed the ordinance.
Chief of Staff Jim Williams, speaking for Mayor Ward, expressed three main concerns.
Williams wondered whether it was the right problem to deal with and said there will be a large burden imposed on staff to complete redactions.
Williams said the most crucial element is making sure exemptions are fair to all residents.
“What about our code enforcers? … What about our animal patrol officers, did you know they wear body armor to work every day?” Williams asked the assembly.
Limited public comment was in favor of the ordinance.
Fairbanks District Attorney Joe Dallaire, while not speaking about the ordinance, said his prosecutors have faced threats of bodily harm, been challenged to fights and been talked about in jail audio recordings.
“For myself, I would prefer to be afforded some measure of privacy, as the Fairbanks district attorney my work shouldn’t have to come home with me,” Dallaire said.
Also providing his personal opinion was Fairbanks police Officer Gregory Foster.
“Nothing prevents people with interest from obtaining my address, or anybody else. It’s to limit the harassment and stalking threats I’ve experienced through my career,” Foster said.
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