ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Thirty recruits are now learning their street skills at the Anchorage Police Department training academy, including firearms qualification and practicing real-wold scenarios, such as how to safely deal with an intoxicated person.
Channel 2 News spoke with two of the recruits Wednesday about why they want to become police officers - a dangerous and often thankless job.
Tae Yoon, 28, says he's seeing what's happening in the city, and he wants to help. "I've lived here the majority of my life," Yoon said. "I did realize Anchorage is not as safe as it used to be, when I was younger. That just opened my views, and I really want to help out. To see what I can do to make changes."
Yoon says he first became motivated to become a police officer, when he was student at West High School. He met the school resource officer who was also named Yoon. "It was the first Korean that I actually saw as a police officer, and I said maybe that's something I could do one day. And a few years later, here I am," Yoon said with a smile.
Jarod Pyle is a former Department of Corrections officer. He says he's motivated to become a police officer, after seeing what happens to people after they end up behind bars. He says, "You know, a lot of time people are just in crisis, and maybe I'll have the opportunity to help them, before they make that decision that would cause them to end up in a facility serving some time."
Both recruits said they've given a lot of thought about the dangers they will face out on the streets, such as the fatal ambush of five officers in Dallas, Texas and the wounding of APD officer Arn Salao, last year.
Yoon said, "For me, before I entered this building, I said to myself 'I'm willing to die,' and I'm ready for it. So I can just move on and just utilized what I've learned here."
Pyle says he and his wife have talked a lot about the risks. They've even worked out a kind of secret code between them on what to do if they're out together, when he's not in uniform, and he has to take action in an emergency. "If something feels wrong, we have words or signs, or something, and kinda split ways, if we need to, and meet up later," Pyle said.
Pyle, Yoon and the other recruits get a reality check as they start each day. Their training supervisor tells them about officers in other cities, who have died in the line of duty, in updates from the "Officer Down Memorial" website. Sgt Scott Roberts said, "It seems to me, more often than I like, that I'm in front of the classroom presenting an officer down summary and having one of the recruits read it to their class and our staff. That's the first thing we do every morning, when we're training."
Recruits Yoon and Pyle are just a month into their training and are scheduled to graduate in early June. If they make the grade, they will get to wear the APD badge and take on the responsibility and pledge to protect and serve the community.