State Troopers head issues apology to Colony High School principal

State Trooper head issues apology to Colony High School Principal
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:48 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 2:59 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Authorities are apologizing to a Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District principal after she was taken out of her home by troopers.

Col. James Cockrell, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said he has personally apologized to Colony High Principal Mary Fulp after troopers took her in for a mental health evaluation without her consent last Wednesday evening while the incident was livestreamed on her Facebook page.

Cockrell said troopers believed there was a court order requiring them to do so, but the Alaska Court System has since confirmed that no such order was ever issued.

According to Cockrell, family members had been trying to get Fulp, who was named Alaska’s Principal of the Year in 2022, into a mental health facility for an evaluation. Cockrell said troopers responded to Fulp’s residence earlier in the day but determined she didn’t meet the criteria for an involuntary commitment.

“Several hours later we received a 911 call from our dispatch center from the family members saying they had a signed court order to transport her to Mat-Su Regional,” Cockrell said. “Two troopers went there … contacted her, looked at the document, believed that it was a valid document signed by a magistrate or judge, and transported her.”

Cockrell said the troopers acted in good faith and trusted the family that the document was legitimate, however, he said troopers failed to do their duties.

“They should have done their due diligence to ensure that that was a proper and legal document,” he said, adding that the department is taking full responsibility for the mistake.

“As a department, the premier law enforcement department in this state, we have to own up to our mistakes, and this time we are owning up. We made a drastic mistake here and I’ve ordered a review of our policies and procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Cockrell said he has personally apologized to Fulp. He characterized her response as “very kind” and said the conversation went well.

When contacted for this story, Fulp said she couldn’t comment on her experience with troopers before running any statements through her legal counsel.

“But when I’m ready to speak, I’m gonna tell all,” she said.

An attorney representing the family put out this statement:

“All five of Mary’s siblings love her and care deeply about her. They have acted together, forthrightly and in good faith, during a difficult time. Their sole concern has been and remains their sister’s well-being. To respect Mary, they have no further comment at present.”