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Alaska - National Geographic Features Troopers

TV Star Alaska state trooper Ryan Bowens talks to villagers in Juneau. State troopers respond to calls often without any backup.

Ryan Bowens
TV Star Alaska state trooper Ryan Bowens talks to villagers in Juneau. State troopers respond to calls often without any backup. (Photo credit: Rob Cox)

Nome, Alaska

The Alaska state troopers—members of the Public Safety Employees of Alaska (PSEA)/AFSCME Local 803—are considered the “first line of defense on the last frontier.” Now they’re also TV stars.

The National Geographic Channel premiered a documentary of the troopers’ critical duties last fall. Filmed over 10 months in 2008, and airing over five weeks, the show followed various troopers performing their dangerous jobs.

In one episode, Anne Spears—one of only three women troopers in the unit—drove more than 100 miles to a remote village to make an arrest and transport the offender via snowmobile to the nearest jail. Of her work, she says, “I’m often out in the middle of nowhere by myself. Law enforcement is tough enough but it’s a lot tougher in a state where just about every resident is armed, the weather is treacherous and wild animals are nearby.”

Spears patrols 15 villages from an off-road post in Nome, a western Alaskan city of 35,000 residents. Riding in a boat or a snowmobile or flying a small plane, she responds to all calls—from drunkenness to domestic assaults—often without any backup.

“The series gives you a glimpse of the reality of what we do serving the people of Alaska,” says Spears. “Because of the unusual challenges we face everyday, we are unlike any law enforcement agency anywhere else in the U.S.”

She hastens to add, “This is the best job I ever had because I get to travel off the beaten path to remote places in this vast state, often expecting the unexpected and meeting diverse people who need our help.”