Haines’ new Alaska State Trooper Andrew Neason grew up listening to his grandfather’s stories about Alaska and looking at pictures of the North.
Neason’s grandfather Clarence Kennedy passed through Haines during World War II while he was serving as an Army infantryman, and as Kennedy got older, he kept coming to Alaska to vacation, hunt and fish.
Neason, who started on the job Sept. 1, moved to Fairbanks about five years ago after working as a police officer in Beckley, W.Va., for three-and-a-half years. Before that, he spent eight years in the Army serving all over the world, including in Korea, South America and Iraq.
The 36-year-old seems almost office-phobic, and said he only spends time inside when he has to do paperwork. “When I don’t have something that requires me to be in the office, I like to be out, whether it’s doing traffic enforcement, assisting (wildlife trooper Ken VanSpronsen), assisting the Haines Police Department, or investigating and developing criminal cases.”
Neason said he likes to mix up his work schedule, and said recently Mosquito Lake residents were surprised to find him out in that area after dark. “I’ve dealt with people that did not expect to find me out and working at odd hours. I don’t see my job as being a 9-to-5 job that I do eight hours a day,” he said.
Adjusting to small-town law enforcement work won’t likely be difficult for Neason. For his first two years as a Fairbanks trooper, he worked primarily doing patrol work in the city. But for the subsequent two-and-a-half years, he worked for the Fairbanks Rural Services Unit, which serves Bush villages.
Neason believes his experience working in smaller communities has allowed him to work more on proactive than reactive policing. “I have a better chance over time of developing relationships here, which will allow me to prevent more crime than responding to crime,” he said.
Haines wildlife trooper VanSpronsen knew Neason in Fairbanks, and the two worked together as blue shirts for a time before VanSpronsen became a brown shirt. The two get along and work really well together, Neason said.
“He’ll back me up on my cases where I need help, and I will back him up on his cases where he needs help. So yes, it’s definitely a situation where we’re both glad of having another trooper here,” Neason said.
So far, Neason has made no arrests but has issued several citations for speeding and failure to carry proof of insurance.
In his free time, Neason enjoys camping, hiking and riding ATVs. Since moving to Haines, he has also become fond of fishing, crabbing and shrimping.
He enjoyes reading science fiction and history.