How to Become a Police Officer in Alaska
In spite of its sparse population, the state of Alaska has well-organized law enforcement agencies that function for the safety of the residents. Wildlife investigators stay quite busy; meanwhile pilots move troopers to their designated service areas and back. Traffic cops patrol city streets, and investigators solve criminal cases. Police officers in the region enjoy the fulfillment of protecting the public in the midst of beautiful mountains, rivers, and coastlines.
Many of the state’s law enforcement personnel work in either Anchorage or Fairbanks. Across the rest of the vast terrain, Alaska State Troopers preside. Their career paths are both demanding and diverse; they include the following titles.
- Fixed or rotary wing pilot
- Sea vessel patrol
- River vessel patrol
- Snowmachine operator
- Canine handler
- SERT and tactical dive unit team member
- DARE officer
- Investigator of white collar, sexual assault, homicide, or property/collision crimes
- Police instructor
Troopers who are assigned to rural jurisdictions sometimes patrol areas that are as large as a small state in the contiguous U.S. Those who work in urban regions, on the other hand, deal with a hectic, high-risk environment. Approximately 400 commissioned officers currently serve as either a state or wildlife trooper.
Job Requirements and Benefits
While city departments employ fewer officers than Alaska State Troopers, they maintain a high standard of professionalism. The Anchorage Police Department, for example, hires only 5 percent of applicants for sworn positions with the agency. The extensive testing process and physical requirements eliminate many candidates. However, successful recruits gain full benefits plus compensation at more than $30 per hour to start. Insurance benefits include medical, dental, vision, audio, life, and both long and short-term disability.
Although the Fairbanks Police Department has only 46 officers, it ranks among the most effective agencies in the state. The recruits work with state-of-the-art equipment and the latest technology to keep the citizens safe. New recruits have a number of specialized positions to strive for such as SWAT team member and drug investigator. For individuals who are interested in a law enforcement career with the department, the City of Fairbanks offers a free Comprehensive Officer Preparation Seminar that covers such topics as the scoring of the oral test and the types of questions that appear on the written test. Attendees can even try the physical agility test so that they can know how to practice.
Since employment in Alaska law enforcement is competitive, aspiring officers must know the requirements and strive to pass every aspect of the testing process. One must begin with the most basic rules. According to theAlaska Police Standards Council, all recruits must meet the following stipulations.
- Be either a U.S. citizen or a resident alien who has shown intent to become a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have good moral character
- Hold either a high school diploma or GED
- Have the appropriate medical record form signed by a licensed physician stating that the applicant is physically capable of performing the duties of a law enforcement officer
- Be mentally stable and have no emotional disorder that may affect job performance
- Have no felony convictions
- Have no misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence
- Have not been denied certification or had it revoked or surrendered (unless rescinded)
- Must not be under suspension in another jurisdiction
- Must not have used marijuana within the past year (unless applicant was under the age of 21 at the time of usage)
Individuals can be disqualified from eligibility if they have participated in the following illegal activities within the past ten years.
- Crime of dishonesty or moral turpitude
- Crime that resulted in the serious physical injury or another person
- Two or more DWI offenses
- Illegal manufacture, transport, or sale of a controlled substance even if under the age of 21
- Illegal use of a controlled substance other than marijuana when age 21 or older
Hiring agencies must confirm that each new recruit has met the state’s minimum standards by the end of the first 90 days of employment. The trainee has the option to attend an approved police academy within the first six months of active duty after which the Field Training Manual must be completed and sent to the council. Otherwise, the recruit must work under a Field Training Officer and complete the manual.
In order to become a permanent Alaska police officer, the recruit must be granted certification from the Alaska Police Standards Council within 14 consecutive months of employment. The department head can request an extension up to six months under specific circumstances such as illness, injury, or family emergency.
Alaska State Troopers Academy
The 18-week program that is mandatory for all new state troopers uses a paramilitary approach. While in attendance students live in dormitories with shared bathrooms and have all their meals provided. The training site is located in Southeast Alaska’s town of Sitka. With instruction that is consistent with most police academies around the country, the school prepares physically and mentally capable individuals for the challenges of a life in law enforcement.
The daily routine consists of rigid physical exercises, classroom instruction, and firearms training. Students must demonstrate proficiency in the use of handguns, shotguns, and patrol rifles. In addition to obtaining certification, recruits earn college credit with each completed course. Simulators are utilized for practicing driving skills and use of force scenarios. Specialized classes are offered by the Alaska Department of Public Safety to correspond with the basic curriculum.
The actual classes last only 15 weeks, but students are expected to remain at the academy for an extra three weeks to attend the Trooper Basic Course. Although graduation does not guarantee certification or employment, it give students the qualifications to apply for both. More than 60 percent of trainees who finish the program go on to work in one of Alaska’s reputable law enforcement agencies.
Potential recruits need the following basic skills in order to perform well at the police academy and on the job.
- Reading Comprehension
- Ability to use senses
- Sound reasoning and judgment
- Ability to think and act quickly during emergencies
- Both oral and written communication skills
- Ability to drive a motor vehicle (must have valid Alaska drivers license)
- Ability to differentiate colors
- Basic computer literacy
- General mathematics ability
- Leadership skills