‘Alaska PD’ aims to help recruitment and humanize officers in Alaska
Fairbanks will once again take the national stage in a new TV show from A&E that will feature the Fairbanks Police Department. A&E worked with Engel Entertainment and Noble Savages to produce a show that features four police departments around Alaska. The show follows officers from Fairbanks, Kodiak, Kotzebue and Petersburg as they perform their duties.
"The series aims to show how law enforcement works in Alaska. It's different than it is in the Lower 48," said 'Alaska PD' producer John X. Kim.
While many of the tasks for police in the Lower 48 and Alaska are the same, the challenges are different -- and that is what the show wanted to highlight.
Producer Stephanie Angelides said she came up with the idea for the show when she was reading an article about how Alaskan communities are struggling to find officers who want to live and work in harsh environments and sometimes remote places. One of the goals of the show is to help departments be able to recruit more people.
Sergeant Spencer DeWaele with the Fairbanks Police Department said that helping recruitment is why he chose to be in the show.
"Trying to gain more recruits and advertising for the department... I thought that it would be good to be part of something to gain new hires," DeWaele said.
He also said that the film crews and producers did a very good job at making the officers feel comfortable and letting them do their job uninterrupted. This hands-off approach is something the producers wanted.
"We took a documentary approach, which means we are very much fly on the wall. We follow the action as it happens, we don't inject, we don't influence," Angelides said.
The producers said they wanted the show to accurately depict what it's like to be an officer in Alaska. Fairbanks Police Chief Nancy Reeder said they did a good job of that -- and for her, that is what she wanted to see from the show.
"It's a front seat to what officers deal with on a day to day basis -- to people we deal with, the good things we do, the inclement weather we have here in the Interior of Alaska and how that's problematic for us at times," Reeder said.
Reeder and DeWaele say that the show does a good job at accurately portraying what it is like to be a cop in Alaska and portrays Fairbanks in a very positive light.
As for a second season, "We kind of fell in love with Alaska, and we are hoping we get to come back at some point," Angelides said.
Sgt. DeWaele agrees, "I really do hope there is a second season where we can continue where we left off, maybe showcase a little bit of summer time."
For now, they hope people get a better understanding of what it means to be a police officer in Alaska.