Alaska State Troopers responded to the fundraising gauntlet thrown down by the North Pole Police Department and are, for now, leading the group in the Alaska Peace Officers Association, or APOA, Virtual Food Drive for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.
Thursday numbers show Alaska State Troopers have raised $3,374, just ahead of Eielson Air Force Base Security Forces with $3,048. Other departments include Fairbanks Emergency Communications Center, $1,156; Fairbanks International Airport Police and Fire, $1,016; North Pole Police, $1,970 and University of Alaska Fairbanks Police, $100.
AST Captain Ron Wall said his department really wants to raise more money than the North Pole Police, who pulled off a last-minute win in 2019.
North Pole Police Chief Steve Dutra and AST Captain Wall exchanged a few light-hearted jabs, all for a good cause.
“He’s not winning because this is my last year as captain,” said Ron Wall, commander of AST’s Interior detachment. “I retire in May and I’m not about to go down without a fight.”
Besides, he noted, he’s also on the board of directors for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, so he intends that Troopers will win this friendly competition to help feed families in Fairbanks.
“We feed about 4,000 children a month out of there,” he said. “I think there’s about 80,000 pounds of food that goes through the Food Bank every month and it’s not just the Fairbanks North Star Borough. It’s the entire Interior Alaska northern region.
“It’s a wonderful organization and I’m honored to be part of it.”
North Pole Police Chief Steve Dutra has no intention of letting Troopers win and there is much strategizing happening, on both sides.
“Steve and I have a lot of fun with each other,” Wall said. “We really cooperate and partner on a lot of things. He’s making me improve my game.”
One of those efforts is to connect with community and both departments plan to do that on Halloween.
North Pole Police will host a drive-through trick-or-treat at the department on Halloween. Troopers will continue their annual Operation Glow, handing out glowsticks to children on Halloween.
“We turn our lights on and go through neighborhoods, handing out glowsticks,” Wall said. “We focus on the high density areas and it keeps vehicle speeds down.”
Both agencies will also accept donations for the APOA Virtual Food Drive at their respective events, although donations are not necessary to participate. North Pole Police even offer free cotton candy if you bring a donation.
The final count for the competition happens Monday at 9 a.m.
Meanwhile, friendly/not-so-friendly competition continues with this light-hearted competitive post on the Alaska State Trooper Facebook page:
“Those rotten do-gooders at the North Pole Police Department are trying to work their way back to the top of Santa’s nice list with a last-minute collection of food and funds for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank. They have another thing coming if they think the Alaska State Troopers won’t rally in response. Team Troopers will continue to raise food and funds until the last second of the law enforcement drive in the Interior, which lasts until the end of the month.
“If you want to help Team Troopers stick it to NPPD, in the name of our friendly competition, you can drop off food or funds at our Fairbanks post or give directly to the Food Bank. Please indicate that you’re donating in honor of your *FAVORITE* LEOs *hashtag Team Troopers*.”
Wall got in one final humorous jab at North Pole’s police chief: “He’s like the little brother I got, but never wanted.”
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris