HPD hires two new officers

The recent hiring of two new Homer Police Department officers brings the force up to its full component of 12 staff. Homer Mayor Bryan Zak recognized new officers Jessica Poling and Morgan Tracy at Monday’s Homer City Council meeting. The new officers fill positions vacated when former officer Sgt. Larry Baxter was promoted to investigative sergeant after Sgt. Lary Kuhns retired in April and another officer left the department in 2016.

Poling comes to Homer from Arizona with nine years of law enforcement experience. She worked as an officer with the St. Johns Police Department and a patrol sergeant with the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. She has a bachelor of science in sociology with a minor in criminal justice from Arizona State University. She grew up in southcentral Ohio before moving to Arizona in 2003. Poling moved to Homer with her mother and her three dogs. In a press release, Poling said she’s looking forward to serving the citizens and visitors of Homer.

Morgan returns to Homer after 14 years active duty in the U.S. Navy. Born in Homer and raised in Anchor Point, he graduated from Homer High School in 1996. He joined the Navy after graduation, serving as a hospital corpsman and specializing in radiography and combat medicine. He deployed to the Middle East twice on the USS Pearl Harbor, a landing ship, in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. He also went to Ubaydi, Iraq, while stationed with the U.S. Marines Combat Logistics Group 2, CLR-2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.Tracy received meritorious promotion and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He and his wife, Janis, have two children, Aaron, 4, and Noel, 2.

In comments of the council at Monday’s meeting, council member Shelly Erickson noted Morgan’s return to the lower Kenai Peninsula.

“It makes me so happy to see kids who grew up in Homer come back to Homer and live and raise their family,” she said.

Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said the department now has seven officers and three sergeants as well as himself and Lt. Will Hutt. The vacant positions were funded in the 2017 budget. The department also includes three full-time jail officers, two part-time jail officers and six dispatchers. One dispatcher position is vacant, but Robl said that position should be filled soon.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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