The events that caused Hanson’s firing and decertification as a cop occurred in 1981. There were incidents of excessive force in the city’s jail and an instance of suborning a fellow cop to give perjured testimony. The APSC decertified Hanson in 1983.
The decertification went into a box of other records that had not yet been entered into a database when Hanson was rehired in 2009, so he came up clean on his background records’ check.
Hanson’s name and decertification report surfaced on a list of over 33,000 decertified cops compiled by USA Today newspaper in 2019. [CLN, September 2019, p. 29] APSC Executive Director Bob Griffiths is looking into the matter of Hanson’s rehiring by the SPD after being tipped off to the situation in July 2020 by CoastAlaska.
Former SPD Chief Sheldon Schmitt rehired Hanson. He noted that Hanson had been free of any work-related complaints since his 2009 rehire as a municipal jailer. After further investigation, Griffiths has determined that Hanson’s rehiring is not barred by a combination of APSC’s categorization of jobs and a 1998 legislative act.
The APSC recognizes three distinct categories of law enforcement jobs. They are probation officers, police officers and jailers. For reasons unknown, the Alaska Legislature decided to exempt municipal correctional officers regarding decertified cops; therefore, the APSC has no lawful authority over municipal correctional officers.
Essentially it will be the SPD’s decision whether to terminate Hanson’s employment there as a jailer or not. “They may just conclude that after this lengthy period of time that it’s not something they need to be concerned about,” stated Griffiths, adding “but I don’t know that it’ll be up to them.”
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