News-Miner opinion: When the Fairbanks City Council comes to session tonight, among its many tasks will be making a decision as whether to confirm Mayor Jim Matherly’s choice for Fairbanks police chief.
While many factors come in to play in selecting a chief, Matherly has settled on a qualified choice: Acting Deputy Chief Ron Dupee.
The department has been without permanent leadership since August 2020, when former Chief Nancy Reeder unexpectedly resigned after less than 15 months on the job. That gap was plugged by the appointments of Richard Sweet as acting chief and Dupee as acting deputy chief. Acting positions fill the gap but in any organization it’s the solidification of permanent leadership that moves the organization forward.
Dupee’s pick as chief of the Fairbanks Police Department is a good one. His rapport with fellow officers is noted, his knowledge of the city is exceptional, and his experience makes him a more than qualified choice to lead the department in these ever-trying times.
Born and raised in Fairbanks, Dupee grew up playing hockey here and went on to play for the Ice Dogs. He even coaches his son’s team. He’s on record as saying his love of the outdoors is what made him want to be a law enforcement officer, with him first being attracted to the fish and wildlife policing aspect of law. He worked with the Alaska State Troopers and was an officer in Unalaska before returning to the Interior, where he has been with the Fairbanks Police Department since 2005.
During his tenure with the department, Dupee has worked as a patrol officer, traffic officer, sergeant and patrol shift lieutenant. He’s been a union representative and president as well as serving as a Datamaster supervisor, DUI instructor, and drug recognition expert and trainer. And in addition to his working knowledge of the department and of law enforcement in general, he’s also aware of today’s challenging police climate.
One of the things Dupee wants to see is more training for officers and more hiring of officers. Neither of those proposals are negatives. That, coupled with his longtime service to the department, puts him in a unique spot to be cognizant of the needs of Fairbanks. Dupee has said he wants to see more collaboration between police officers and behavioral health specialists, which is a topic that’s been on the forefront of the national conversation in the past year. These are all positive changes and reflect a growing sense of officers nationwide taking a broader, empathetic stance when it comes to policing.
He also knows officers need to grow community relations because that’s how change is made — by making progress with the community.
When the confirmation comes before the Fairbanks City Council tonight, let’s see that progress start with the hiring of Ron Dupee as Fairbanks police chief.