I went to the State Trooper's building today for the "press availability" event (Megan Peters corrected me when I called it a "press conference") at 1:00. He talked about looking forward to working with the Legislature, being an advocate for the Troopers and focusing on recruitment, moving forward with improvements in Rural Alaska, including reducing substance abuse. He gave pretty much the standard spiel and definitely no "new agenda."
Then the first question came:
Corey Allen Young, Channel 11--"I'd just like to get your side of the story regarding the sexual harassment allegations made."
Commissioner Kopp--"[There has] never been a sexual harassment allegation that resulted in a lawsuit or a settlement by the City of Kenai. There is nothing in my record that would give me a black eye or would hinder me in my roll as Commissioner of Public Safety."
Then a follow up from Channel 11, then a similar question from Channel 13.
Commissioner Kopp: "There is no personal settlement there is no public settlement as in there is nothing in the record."
Channel 11 and 13--more questions
Commissioner Kopp--"There is one that has happened, period," said Kopp. "But I don't want to comment on that. There is absolutely nothing in my record that I am ashamed of. There is no skeletons in my closet. There is no monster looming to crawl out to say, 'Did this happen?'"
Public Safety Commissioner Chuck Kopp speaks to the press (photo courtesy of The Department of Public Safety)
The back story per channel 11's website:
While no lawsuit or settlement came from the sexual harassment complaint, we do know one was made; and so did Governor Palin before she appointed Kopp, Alaska's top cop.
The governor's office said there was no substance to the complaint filed three years ago and Commissioner Kopp continues to have her full support. After being pressed on the issue several times, Kopp did admit to the complaint...
...CBS 11 News is in contact with the woman who filed the complaint and she wants to tell her side of the story, but doesn't want to do that until she can talk to her attorney. He is not going to be back in town until later this week.
Megan Peters jumped in and said this is about "talking about the future of DPS and where we are headed."
K...let's ask a "future" question.
So I asked "The reason [given] for Walt Monegan's firing was so that they could go 'in a new direction' so I wanted to know specifically what you wanted to do differently than Walt Monegan was doing."
Commissioner Kopp--"I'm not going to comment on prior leadership or the circumstances there. I'm just going to move forward with a positive focus. I've talked about recruitment and retention, talking about improving the working conditions for the employees of the Department of Public Safety, looking at being accountable and responsive in all our Divisions to the people of Alaska as we execute our mission.
Me--"I was wondering what was new about this direction?"
Kopp--"We're building on the good things of the past and we are looking forward to further refining our approach, our fiscal responsibility, our accountability. We're looking forward to moving forward and having a credible (*muffled*) policy."
Corey from Channel 11 pointed out that this was all the same things the Governor has been saying and that Walt Monegan has been saying. He asked for more specifics on recruitment and...again...we heard some of the same things we've been hearing--that we have to target people with an "adventurous spirit" who want to live in Rural Alaska.
I have heard good things from others about Chuck Kopp and though I wonder how he'll handle 800 state employees vs. the 30 he dealt with in Kenai, he probably deserves a chance...if he can handle this "sexual harassment" issue better than he did today.
However, I left the press room thinking less about Chuck Kopp and wondering more about Walt Monegan and why that change was needed?