June 14, 2012 | Volume 42, No.24

Officers take posts at police, troopers

Three new lawmen are on the job.

Recently hired Haines Borough police officer Adam Patterson grew up in Indiana, but has lived in Haines for the past five years. While living in Indiana, Patterson attended Purdue University and studied music at Ball State University. Patterson then moved to Austin, Texas, where he furthered his music career, playing drums in bands. He moved again – this time to Los Angeles – and continued to pursue music.    

It was while visiting a friend in Skagway that Patterson began work with Chilkat Guides. He moved to Haines in 2007, where he has since held a variety of other jobs.       

But working in security was something he had thought about doing years ago. “It was something I had wanted to do when I was 17 or 18 years old,” he said, but decided, instead, to follow the music route.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that Patterson started thinking about entering the police force. This past winter, he headed to Fairbanks where he attended the 13-week police academy at University of Alaska-Fairbanks. 

  “I love this community,” Patterson said. “And being a member of this community, it feels nice to give back.” Serving as a policeman calls for a sense of authority, but that authority should not be abused, he said.

He understands that in many cases police action results from people making mistakes. “Much of the time it’s people who have done something wrong and they’re not bad people,” he said. “My philosophy is to enforce the law appropriately, courteously, and with a touch of community pride.”

  New borough officer Josh Knore was born and raised in Ohio. He spent four years in the Army as an infantry sniper from 2006-2010. He then attended Columbus State for about a year, where he took criminal justice courses. It was then that he decided to join the police force. “The road kind of opened up for me,” he said.  “I always wanted to do security…that’s why I’d joined the Army.”     

  But Knore found that due to the scarcity of openings in law enforcement in the Midwest, it may take years to land a job. “I really just wanted to get my career started.”  

  A friend mentioned that he may only be able to find a job in Alaska, and just months later, Knore was on his way to the UAF police academy. “I packed two duffle bags and flew up here to Alaska,” he said. 

  At the academy, Knore met Patterson, who was enrolled in the same program and told him about Haines. And while Fairbanks didn’t meet Knore’s expectations of Alaska, Haines did. “Right when I got here (Haines), I knew this is where I wanted to be,” he said.

  Knore said he wants to change the perception of cops. “I hated cops when I was younger,” he stated, adding that he now wants to show others that they aren’t out to get people. “It’s about treating everyone with respect,” he said. “And definitely enforcing the laws, but in a reasonable manner.”

Alaska Fish and Widlife Trooper Ken VanSpronsen started on the job June 2, and replaces Ricky Merritt.

VanSpronsen grew up outside Grand Rapids, Mich. He worked as a commercial game guide in Montana on hunts for elk, antelope, deer, bears and mountain lions. He also worked on the trail crew for the National Park Service at Isle Royale National Park before coming north to become an Alaska State Trooper.

A fisherman and hunter, VanSpronsen said he was drawn to Alaska “because it’s not the (Lower 48)” and put in for the Haines job because it’s not 50 below here. He previously worked two years in a Fairbanks trooper detachment where duties ranged north to the Central Arctic caribou herd hunt and west to the commercial salmon fishery at Bristol Bay.

VanSpronsen is a fly fisherman who isn’t unfamiliar with local species, noting that both land-locked sockeye salmon, known as “kokanee,” and coho salmon are found in the Great Lakes, as are lake trout up to 40 pounds.