31 Years of Service: Captain Ronald Wall is retiring from the Alaska State Troopers
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - May 31, 2021 will be Alaska State Trooper Captain Ronald Wall’s last day in uniform. After 31 years of serving the state, he is retiring. Since joining the department in the 1990′s and over the years rising through the ranks, he has seen many changes.
When he first joined the troopers he was stationed in Fairbanks. Wall said, “I was raised in Fairbanks, so I was fortunate enough to come and work right here in Fairbanks.” While in Fairbanks he did patrol work, was a K-9 handler and an investigator. He later was transferred to Homer and then Girdwood before coming back to Fairbanks. Of his 31 years on the force, he has spend 26 in his home town.
He said he was originally planning to go to school to be a lawyer, but realized he wanted to do law enforcement instead. When he first joined he was excited, “I couldn’t believe somebody actually paid me to do this job. It was so much fun. You know you get to drive fast and arrest bad guys.”
Over the years he realized that there was liability and responsibility with being a trooper and that it wasn’t all fun and games. He said there were many ups and downs but that he has loved his job.
“You get to do some things that are just absolutely amazing,” Wall said. “You fly in helicopters and you hang out on the skids, you get to go out in boats... You can be sitting in the office and you go from sheer boredom to sheer terror in a matter of seconds.”
But Wall has also had his share of excitement, “There is nothing more exciting than being shot at and missed multiple times.” However, Wall said there were many defining moments through-out his career, “As far as saying, ‘is there one story that sums up your career?’ probably not, it’s just a culmination of chaos.”
Wall did say that he wished he would have kept better track of his stories, “This is a career that I wished I would have taken notes through and kept because some of the stuff you don’t even remember because it becomes so common placed in a high stressed, fast paced environment.”
Since starting as a trooper over 30 years ago he has seen many changes, “When I started we had revolvers, that was before pepper spray, before Tasers.” As the years flew by, computers entered the scene, then cell phones. He remembers when you used to call someone on the phone, now you send an email. Another change he has seen is the cultural attitude toward law enforcement.
“Law enforcement as a whole is so scrutinized right now that they’re villainized and people don’t like you just because you wear a blue uniform,” Wall said.
As he stayed with the troopers he became a Sergeant, Lieutenant and five years ago Captain and the Commander of the “D” Detachment. He said that as he progressed into more leadership roles his biggest frustration was with the bureaucracy and how hard it was to change things. He said it made him learn how to time a message for the right people. He also said that being the captain gave him a different perspective on law enforcement.
“You would think that an Alaska State Trooper is a police officer writing tickets, that’s what people picture us as. But when you are in a command position you are actually running a business,” Wall said. He said that he had to do things like make budgets, deal with housing issues, find new people for the job and even building maintenance.
One of the troopers who has spent the most time with him is Sergeant Jeremy Rupe, an investigator with the troopers. He said they first started working together over 20 years ago and that as Captain Wall has gotten more responsibility, Rupe has seen him grow and rise to the position.
Rupe said he went from, “‘hey I am working a case,’ to like now he is managing people or even managing services or being responsible for services. Taking that to a light where I think he takes that very personal, he wants to make sure that he is doing the best job he can and he is trying to provide the best services he can.”
After he became Captain, Wall said one of his main goals was community outreach, “We were law enforcement and that’s all we did. And I wanted to make sure we reached back out and engaged our community.”
He started reaching out to non-profits and victims of crimes. One of the people he reached out to was Jessica Stossel who is the Client Services Director at the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living. She said that before Wall became Captain they didn’t have a great relationship with law enforcement, but that he made sure to reach out to victims by having advocates on scene during interviews and attending meetings with the organization.
“He is really just a great guy all around, super supportive of all we do, super supportive of the community,” Stossel said.
Wall also worked to help the less fortunate in the community. Last year he helped raise a record amount of food for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank during a food drive. He also held a toy drive to help buy Christmas gifts for children.
Wall said that looking back on his career, “I think I am successful and I am very excited to see what the people that follow me can do.” Captain Wall will be replaced by Captain Eric Spitzer who was previously at the Anchorage post.
Wall said once he retires he plans to spend time at his woodworking business as well as relaxing and traveling. He also said he will continue to be active in the community and helping out with fundraisers and outreach.
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