If you’ve ever wanted to see the law through the eyes of a State Trooper, now’s your chance. The Alaska State Troopers Soldotna Post will launch its fifth Citizen Academy this January. The weekly course, which begins Jan. 18 and ends April 5, aims to provide accurate information about law enforcement, prompt discussion and engage the community more actively in public safety issues, Lt. Dane Gilmore, deputy commander with the State of Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers, said.
The Academy is an opportunity for attendees to hear personal anecdotes from troopers and have discussions about the realities of law enforcement in Alaska, including how troopers investigate crimes, enforce traffic laws, handle equipment, conduct search and rescue operations and interact with the public. Experts from other agencies, including the FBI and local police departments, will also provide lessons. The program is free and open to members of the public 16 years or older.
“We have high school students. We have retirees. We have everyone in between,” Gilmore said.
Will Madison, a retired teacher from the Anchorage School District, participated in the Academy for the first time three years ago. Last year his wife Jane, also a retired Anchorage teacher, joined him.
“He would come home and couldn’t wait to tell me about it,” Jane said. “It was so interesting. So when it was offered again, we both took it.”
The two, who live outside Soldotna, said the course opened their eyes to the many challenges law enforcements officers face daily — whether its dealing with criminal activity or filing paperwork for a traffic accident.
“When a trooper comes across an accident, if there are injuries but no deaths, that’s about a four-hour commitment,” Jane said. “If there’s a death, it’s an eight-hour commitment.”
In one lesson, Will got to ride in a search and rescue helicopter. In another, Jane had to provide back up to a fellow officer in a digital simulation of a burglary response.
“I had a split second to decide whether to shoot or not. I waited too long and ended up dead,” she said.
Both Jane and Will said they now encourage others to consider a career in law enforcement.
The Academy is capped at 25 participants. Gilmore encourages those interested to apply by Jan. 1.