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Top Alaska Trooper tapped to take over as acting Public Safety commissioner

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- Gov. Parnell has named the top Alaska State Trooper, Col. Keith Mallard, acting commissioner of the Department of Public Safety following the resignation of Joe Masters.

No word Monday about when a full-time appointment may come, but one person at least thinks Mallard might actually be governor material himself.

Mallard currently heads the Division of Alaska State Troopers, and has served with the Department of Public Safety for 16 years. Among positions he has held over the years are Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) operator, field training officer, and the Alaska State Troopers' first dual-purpose canine handler.

In 2005, Mallard transferred into the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement (ABADE) as the deputy commander. In 2006, he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned as the commander of the ABADE, where he served until he was promoted to colonel in December of 2010.

Former Sarah Palin henchman Frank Bailey came into contact with Mallard when he participated in Gov. Sarah Palin's vendetta against former Trooper Mike Wooten, a matter that became known as "Troopergate."

Not long after Bailey was outed publicly as having help Palin pressure the Troopers, Bailey and Mallard wound up as roommates for a week. Mallard, then a captain, joined Bailey and other Rabbit Creek Community Church members as they worked to assist the community of Eagle, which had been devastated by Yukon River flooding.

After a week of hard work cleaning and rebuilding Eagle, Bailey wrote in his book "Blind Allegiance" that the state would be better off if the petty, squabbling elected officials in Juneau were replaced with the volunteers such as those he'd been working with.

"Governor Trooper Mallard sounded pretty good to me," Bailey wrote.

Masters' resignation is effective Tuesday. He became commissioner in 2008 with a goal of stabilizing the department following the Troopergate scandal, he said.

Contact Pat Forgey at pat(at)alaskadispatch.com