Troopers recruiting for patrol jobs, fish and wildlife division openings

National shortage in law enforcement makes hiring harder

Posted: Monday, July 31, 2000

The Alaska State Troopers are looking for a few good brown shirts and blue shirts to fill three vacancies.

In trooper haberdashery, ``blue shirts'' are patrol positions. ``Brown shirts'' are fish and wildlife protection troopers.

``All trooper positions statewide are very specialized,'' said Sgt. Scott Kieffer of the Anchorage recruitment office.

Basic requirements are being at least 21 and having a sound body and a high school diploma. Beyond that, there are no gender or age requirements, Kieffer said.

In new recruits, he looks for honesty, integrity, loyalty, the ability to think on one's feet, and prior criminal justice experience. If an applicant has a fixed-wing pilot's license or a helicopter license, that's a plus.

Because of Alaska's 33,000 miles of coastline and many lakes and streams, boating experience or scuba certification is also handy. Survival training, military service, dog-handling experience -- ``anything like that is going to help,'' Kieffer said.

Physically, a recruit must be able to do three things: a minimum of 27 situps in a minute; 25 pushups in a minute; and run one and a half miles in no more than 15 minutes, 12 seconds.

``We have some posts where there are helicopters, like Aniak, Fairbanks and Anchorage. We have posts in Dutch Harbor and Cold Bay that deal strictly with commercial fisheries and have to take on some pretty nasty seas and open waters. We use four-wheelers, Ski-Do's -- we do things from all angles,'' he said.

There's a national shortage of suitable candidates for law enforcement, which makes it a long, complicated process to find the right people, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson of Anchorage.

``We might get 800 requests for an academy. By the time we send back the 40-page (application) booklets, you get only 200 of those back. And by the time you check out all of those people, we might wind up with 20 finalists for eight openings. It's quite an attrition rate,'' Wilkinson said.

Alaska residents are preferred, Wilkinson said.

Two trooper academies are held each year in Sitka, one in March and one in August. For next month's class, about 900 initial inquiries were winnowed down to five brown shirt and eight blue shirt candidates.

Someone who wants to be a trooper first applies online. Second, he or she must pass the physical tests. Third, there's a written test. If the candidate leaps over that hurdle, he or she undergoes a background investigation, then review by a selection committee. Next it's on to an oral interview by five uniformed officers. Next comes drug screening, a medical evaluation and a psychological evaluation. The final step is a review by the state's two trooper colonels.

Southeast Alaska has seven troopers in Ketchikan, two on Prince of Wales, one in Haines, and three in Juneau, plus two commanders in Ketchikan. There is one vacancy in Petersburg, said Ketchikan Trooper Post Supervisor Sgt. Kurt Ludwig.

A former South Carolina police officer, Ludwig joined the AST in 1987.

``Being able to deal with any age group and any culture is what makes a good trooper,'' Ludwig said. ``It also takes a lot of common sense and having a professional bearing but not a `heavy badge.'''



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