FPD hire talks about decision to move to the Golden Heart City

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 7:00 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks has a new police officer on the streets, with the second in a run of recent hires wrapping up his field training.

Drawn to Interior Alaska for the snow and homey atmosphere, officer Joseph “Joe” Butler chose the department over other Alaska agencies after meeting some of the people in town, and a nice round of sight-seeing.

“I’ve always wanted to live in Alaska, and me and my wife came up here for our anniversary last year towards the end, and we drove around the area,” he said, continuing, “We talked, and we were able to see all the different sights in the area ... it has a really small town feel to it, especially compared to where I came from back home.”

Part of his interest also came down to the winter weather and hitting the slopes and trails.

“I used to snowboard a lot whenever I was younger,” he said, “I’m getting my kids into it now, sledding, and going out and hiking in the snow.”

As for the changes that could affect his shift from law enforcement in the south to working in Interior Alaska, the Southeast Georgia transplant pointed to the cold again, but this time as something that might take some acclimating.

“Getting out, being able to effectively do traffic control whenever everybody is sliding all over the highway, I would say probably the weather is the ... biggest difference in policing,” he said.

On the other hand, Butler said he looks forward to the chance to get acquainted with the community and capitalize on the small-town experience by connecting with Fairbanksans.

He described one of the pros of working in the Golden Heart City as “[b]eing able to have the time to get out with people, know the same people over and over again, whereas back home it was a different set of people almost every day.”

But perhaps the main thing to know about the FPD hire is what to anticipate if one comes across him while on the job.

“You can expect me to have a … warm smile, a handshake, but at the same time be a real advocate for victims and children,” he said.

Butler was sworn in along with two other officers on Oct. 23. He recently completed his four month-long field training, becoming the second of the three to take to the roads of Fairbanks as a full officer.

Note: A correction was made to this story to reflect that officer Butler was the second of the three hires sworn in on Oct. 23 who completed his field training.