Growing up, Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Anne Sears never planned to become an Alaska State Trooper, let alone to be featured in that role in a new documentary-style reality television show.
"You can do anything that you set your mind to and succeed at it if you work hard enough, and especially if you find something that you love to do," she said. "And if it's something that you love to do, stick with it. I think that would apply to me in this job. I kind of fell into it as a fluke, but it is something that I love doing and I work hard at it and I feel like I can do anything now."
"Alaska State Troopers" is a five-part series focusing on the state law enforcement branch that premiered Oct. 14 on the National Geographic Channel. The show airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays.
Sears' involvement with the new show happened somewhat by happenstance. The troopers' public information office told the show's producers about Sears and two other female troopers posted in Nome.
The production team went during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race earlier this year for an episode it titled "The Wild West" set to air Nov. 4. One of Sears' female coworkers was on vacation and the other on maternity leave, so the team followed her.
It was a bit odd having the television camera follow her around as she went about her daily duties, Sears said.
"Especially when I was going to the villages and going to investigations," she said. "It was strange. And it was actually a lot of work. ... It was hard, but it was fun. It was something different."
Sears' law enforcement career began more out of curiosity than passion. She wasn't a kid that dreamed of being a police officer or firefighter. She graduated from JDHS in 1984, got a job working at the Juneau Police Department as a clerk and became interested in what it took to get hired as an officer.
"In the back of my head from years ago I had some little inkling that I wanted to be in some kind of position to help other people," Sears said. "I started going through the testing process and moving on to the next step and I got a lot of encouragement from other officers in the testing process."
Soon, Sears was offered a job as a police officer.
"I was like, 'OK let's do it,' and I was hooked the first day of field training," she said. "I found my niche."
Sears worked for JPD for 7½ years, a year and a half as an officer. The troopers hired her in 2001 and posted her in Palmer before being posted in Nome along with her husband, Jay Sears, who is also featured in the show.
Sears said she understands why people are fascinated by Alaska State Troopers, particularly people that live in the Lower 48.
"I'm out in the middle of nowhere doing DUIs with guys that have tattoos all up and down their arms and have drug rap sheets a mile long and people are just fascinated by that fact, especially when you talk to other law enforcement from down south," she said. "They don't understand, or don't comprehend, how we work like that."
Being a trooper in western Alaska is different than working as a law enforcement officer in Alaska's urban settings, Sears said.
"Here in the Bush, I don't have a car to go to villages," she said. "I fly to villages, snow machine to villages, go by boat. People think that's fascinating."
Many of the crimes that the troopers in the Bush deal with are similar to the ones dealt with throughout the state, from domestic violence complaints, drunken driving traffic stops, burglary investigations and assaults.
"I've gotten into wrestling matches and chasing people and I've come out on the winning end," she said. "Every day is different. I've definitely had my share of scary moments."
Being on a cable television series hasn't gone to her head, Sears said.
"Has my life changed? No," she said. "Lots of folks that we know down south call, they think it's cool. I think it's strange seeing myself on TV. But I can't say my life has changed. Not yet."
More than anything she hopes that her role in the show will empower young women and girls, Sears said.
"When I am in uniform and either here in Nome or one of the villages, I hope when young girls do see me, maybe it's not popping into their head, but hopefully at one point in their life they realize, 'Hey, if she can do it, I can do it.'"
Contact reporter Eric Morrison at email@example.com.
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