While Alaska’s wide open spaces and bountiful natural beauty often create a picture of tranquility for many, the reality is that this state isn’t immune from crime. According to stats from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program, Alaska’s law enforcement agencies reported an overall 6.5% increase in violent crimes between 2017 and 2018, with murders totaling 62 and assaults totaling 4,263. Most troubling is that both murder and aggravated assault have steadily increased in this state in the last ten years. The rate of aggravated assaults in Alaska is a disturbing 131% higher than the national average.
If a penchant for justice and the desire to make a difference runs through your veins, then a career as an Alaskan law enforcement official may be the perfect fit for you. Alaska’s rising crime stats may spell a challenge for both state and local law enforcement agencies here, but you’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. With equal parts determination and skill, you can become part of the solution to Alaska’s growing crime problems.
Alaska’s State Law Enforcement Agencies
The Alaska Department of Public Safety oversees the three, major law enforcement agencies of Alaska: the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol (ABHP), the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, and the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement.
Alaska State Troopers are assigned to the ABHP, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, and the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement.
All state trooper candidates must provide proof of residency (birth certificate or naturalization certificate); a high school diploma or GED; all post-secondary degrees or education; a 10-year employment history; and a 10-year residential history.
Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol
Within the ABHP are the Alaska State Troopers (with about 300 uniformed officers), and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers (with about 90 uniformed officers).
Although the majority of officers through the ABHP are Alaska State Troopers, there are members of the team who serve as officers within local police departments and personnel with the DOT Commercial Vehicles Enforcement Division. ABHP traffic teams work out of Fairbanks, Mat-Su West, Soldotna, and Girdwood.
Alaska Bureau of Investigation
The Alaska Bureau of Investigation (ABI) investigates major crimes throughout the state of Alaska, including illegal drug distribution and bootlegging. The ABI coordinates and conducts criminal investigations within the Alaska State Troopers jurisdiction, including major crimes like homicides, sexual assaults, forgery, fraud, missing persons, and computer and Internet crimes.
The ABI is broken down into individualized units with expert personnel:
- Child Abuse Investigation Unit
- Cold Case Investigation Unit
- Financial Crimes Unit
- Major Crimes Unit
- Missing Persons Clearinghouse
- Property Crimes Unit
- Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit
- Technical Crimes Unit
Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement
The Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement (ABADE) coordinates all law enforcement efforts to reduce the availability of controlled substances and alcohol throughout the state of Alaska. They are tasked with seizing alcohol and controlled substances that are illegally distributed throughout Alaska and providing training and investigative support to criminal justice agencies.
Municipal Law Enforcement in Alaska
Alaska is divided into 18 boroughs (not counties), most of which consist of thousands of square miles of land. The exception is the Anchorage Police Department, which patrols an area of just 100 square miles due to the large number of residents (about 300,000).
Due to the sheer size of most Alaskan boroughs, it’s commonplace for multiple police departments to provide law enforcement services to a single borough.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is a massive area that encompasses 25,000 square miles. This borough is overseen by the City of Wasilla Police Department and the City of Palmer Police Department.
Fairbanks North Star Borough
The Fairbanks North Star Borough covers 7,361 miles and serves nearly 100,000 residents. Within the borough are the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole. As such, the Fairbanks North Star Borough is served by the police departments of both Fairbanks and North Pole.
Municipality of Anchorage
In 1975, the city of Anchorage merged with the Greater Anchorage Area Borough, thereby forming the Municipality of Anchorage. The Anchorage Police Department serves the Municipality and its 100 square miles of land.
Police Departments in Alaska
Law enforcement in Alaska often looks very different depending on where in the state it takes place. For example, some areas, like Anchorage, are home to larger populations concentrated in a relatively small area, while in other areas, officers may be in charge of patrolling vast areas with small numbers of residents. Regardless of where a law enforcement career in Alaska takes you, a few things remain constant: you must be dedicated, you must be skilled, and you must be qualified.
The Anchorage, Alaska, Police Department is the largest department in Alaska, with more than 400 sworn officers serving about 300,000 residents. There are a number of specialized units within the Anchorage Police Department:
- Bomb Team
- Canine Unit
- Crisis Intervention Team
- Homicide Response Team
- Hostage Negotiations Team
- School Resource Officers
- Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit
- Traffic and Crime Prevention Unit
Candidates must meet minimum employment qualifications, which include passing a reading and comprehension test, a physical ability test, a polygraph exam, a psychological assessment, and a thorough background check.
The Fairbanks Police Department has 45 sworn officers, six civilian support personnel, and an annual budget of $6.9 million. This police department is home to a number of specialized positions, including bicycle/foot patrol, drug investigator, K9 handler, school resource officer, and tactical police team member.
Candidates must be at least 21 years old and must possess a high school diploma or GED (additional college-level courses in criminal justice are preferred). Further, all applicants for employment must be able to obtain a Basic APSC certificate within 18 months of completing the Police Academy, and all applicants must be able to meet minimum physical fitness requirements and pass a written examination, polygraph examination, and psychological examination.
The Juneau Police Department consists of 90 employees, including 55 officers and 35 civilian personnel. It is the second largest municipal police department in the State of Alaska.
Officers here patrol an area of 3,081 square miles and work through two divisions: Administrative Support Services and Operations. Within the two divisions are five units:
- Community Service
The Juneau Police Department also maintains a number of specialized teams, including a SWAT Team, a Bomb Disposal Team, and a Hostage Negotiation Team.
Candidates here must be at least 18 years old at the time of appointment, they must hold a high school diploma or GED, and they must be able to pass a written exam and physical ability test.
The Sitka Police Department includes 33 employees, a community jail facility, and a 24-hour dispatch and records center. The jurisdiction covers more than 4,700 miles and about 1,300 miles of coastline. The Operations Division includes the following units:
- Emergency Response Vessel Operators
- Investigative Dive Team
- SEACAD Drug Unit
Candidates must pass a written test, a physical fitness test, an oral interview, a polygraph test, a psychological evaluation, and a background check.
Alaska Law Enforcement Salaries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 data reveals a median annual salary of $84,830 for Alaska police officers. The top 10% here earn an average salary of $121,390, making officers at this level among the highest paid in the nation.
The following salary data, sourced directly from the respective departments/agencies, reveal starting salaries for police officers and, in some cases, salary ranges that include mid- and senior-level salaries, as well. All salary data feature post-Academy salaries, unless otherwise noted.
Police Officer Salaries
Police officer salaries through Alaska’s largest police departments tend to vary significantly, with the Anchorage Police Department pulling out ahead with a starting salary of $69,908 and Fairbanks Police Department coming in a close second at $63,252 (after the probationary year).
- Anchorage Police Department
Police officers with the Anchorage Police Department earn a starting salary of $69,908 ($33.61/hour). Officers with an associate’s degree earn an additional 4%, while those with bachelor’s degrees earn an additional 8%.
- Fairbanks Police Department
Fairbanks Police Department’s police officer recruits earn $23.41-$28.89/hour ($48,692-$60,091) during their first (probationary) year and then increase to $30.41-$42.80/hour ($63,252-$89,024).
- Juneau Police Department
Police officers with the Juneau Police Department earn a salary of $32.60-$34.93/hour ($67,808-$72,654).
- Sitka Police Department
The salary range for Sitka police officers is $27.11/hour ($56,388) to $36.82/hour ($76,585), with a median salary of $32.06/hour ($66,684) based on a 15-step salary schedule.
- Wasilla Police Department
Police officers with the Wasilla Police Department earn a salary of $25.67/hour ($53,393), with one-year salary increments of 2.5% to the maximum salary of $37.44/hour ($77,875).
State Trooper and State Police Salaries
Alaska State Troopers with the Alaska Department of Public Safety earn the highest salaries among law enforcement officers in Alaska, with recruits here earning $34.98/hour, or $72,768. Recruits with a bachelor’s degree or higher earn even more, at $36.29/hour, or $75,492.
Subsequent salary increases are based on years of experience:
- 1 year: $37.65/hour, $78,324
- 2 years: $39.07/hour, $81,264
- 3 years: $40.53/hour, $84,312
- 4 years: $42.05/hour, $87,468
- 5 years: $43.63/hour, $90,744
- 6+ years: $45.27/hour, $94,152
Officers with a bachelor’s degree earn an additional $3.75% to the above salaries.
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm.
BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Agency-level salary and employment data was sourced directly from the municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies named and reflects the specific salary ranges and seniority- or rank-based pay described by the respective agency.
All salary and employment data accessed in August 2019.