WASILLA — Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle recently received a member of the year award for the Mat-Su chapter of the Alaska Peace Officers Association for being a driving force behind Wasilla Police Department’s new station in addition to his lengthy membership filled with service to law enforcement and first responders projects across Alaska.
“I feel honored,” Cottle said. “It felt good. I didn’t expect anything like that.”
Cottle has been a member of the APOA for 18 years. He became the mayor of Wasilla in 2014 and his term is nearly up.
“Mayor Cottle has been very active with APOA and instrumental in police and first-responder support for decades,” retired Alaska State Trooper Colonel and APOA Mat-Su Chapter Vice-President Tom Anderson stated in a recent press release. “As a former police chief in Valdez and FBI Academy graduate, and a lifelong Alaskan, Bert Cottle’s commitment to public service and civic stewardship has been remarkable.”
Wasilla, Houston, and Colony High School all have WPD officers serving as peace officers, according to Cottle. He said the APOA and statewide efforts of peace officers serve a vital role in communities, which has been particularly helpful during the COVID-19 crisis.
“I think their cause is causeworthy. You gotta’ have police officers. There needs to be an organization between private, the government and police. It all ties together,” Cottle said.
Cottle has been heavily involved with police and first responders during his time as mayor, following 22 and half years in his own career in law enforcement. He served primarily out of the Valdez Police Department and served eight years as chief.
“People want to feel safe. They want to feel secure,” Cottle said.
Cottle said the main thing he’s done to promote public safety projects over years mostly boils down to “public relations.”
“Trying to build a relationship with the community... to me its public relations. It’s no big secret,” Cottle said. “Once you lose the public's trust you cant get it back… As long as you’ve got the public on your side, there’s a lot of things you can do.”
Cottle credited the Wasilla community for making the new WPD station and other results possible.
“These people raised their taxes by 50 percent to build a brand new police department. I mean, how many other communities would do that right now?” Cottle said. “It’s all been the public’s support… and people want to see what you’re doing… The same thing with the Veterans Wall, you can drive by and go I see what they did with it.”
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org