KODIAK - The Kodiak Police Department hopes a new reality show featuring its officers will attract new recruits to an area where staffing has been difficult.
The program will look at the lives of police officers in Kodiak, Fairbanks, Kotzebue and Petersburg.
Kodiak Sgt. Francis de la Fuente hopes the show will draw attention to the department, which is frequently understaffed.
"We want to see if it can be a hiring tool for Kodiak," he said.
The idea for the show came from an article about an Alaska town recruiting prospective officers from the Lower 48, executive producer Stephanie Angelides said.
"It turns out officers from the Lower 48 do come up to these departments and try to make Alaska their new home and make this work. And it's not as easy as it seems," Angelides said.
Producer John X. Kim noticed community policing is more important in Kodiak than anywhere else he has filmed.
"In Kodiak, it is so infused in what they do and how they do their job," Kim said. "You're not just the cop. You're going to run into people that you ticketed or arrested in the supermarket or at a traffic light. That's part of the reality of being a police officer in Kodiak."
Sgt. Michael Sortor, who has worked in the Kodiak department for 10 years, was one of the officers who camera crews followed.
The biggest problem with retaining new officers in Kodiak is the pay, he said.
The starting salary for police officers on the island is about $22 per hour, lower than salaries at the Anchorage Police Department and for the Alaska State Troopers, Sortor said.
“You’re taking a very difficult job,” Sortor said, adding that it can be difficult for officers to socialize at bars where they might have patrolled recently. “I see a make-or-break period in the first three years.”