Alaska News

State pulls plug on 'Alaska State Troopers' TV show

The Alaska State Troopers' reality show is coming to an end.

Trooper director Col. James Cockrell on Tuesday emailed Department of Public Safety employees announcing the state has decided not to participate in another season of "Alaska State Troopers," the popular, "Cops"-style series on National Geographic, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

"DPS has decided to end the production after this season after five years of filming with (production company) PSG Films," Ipsen wrote in an email. "This decision was not reflective of PSG Films or the quality of their product. It was just time to focus on the job of providing public safety without any added outside distractions."

Cockrell did not rule out resuming the series "in a couple of years if there is a desire among DPS to begin another chapter."

The state received no money in return for allowing film crews to follow members of the statewide police force as they made arrests in cities and villages across Alaska, although the show is buoyed by state subsidies. The first season aired in 2009, arriving early in the current wave of Alaska-based reality shows.

"It definitely increased recruitment," Ipsen said in an interview. "I think that was mostly the first few seasons, and then it tapered off."

Ipsen said the production company represented troopers well. "It was kind of an eye-opener for people in Alaska to see some of the activity that goes on in their communities."


Asked about drawbacks to participating in the series, Ipsen said the film crews sometimes presented logistical problems for troopers, such as when they needed to transport people they had arrested but had limited space because of the two-person camera teams.

The state had to decide each year whether to extend the series, Ipsen said. The decision to end the show was made last week. Ipsen said she does not know who was involved in the decision, but she said it rose to the level of Public Safety Commissioner Gary Folger.

The TV crews have become a common sight alongside troopers in Alaska.

A 49-year-old Anchorage man wanted on felony charges for escaping from a halfway house turned himself in Friday after watching the show, troopers said. Brian Fahey said he surrendered to the agency because he believed they "were more professional and courteous to the people they arrested," according to a trooper report posted online.

Earlier in the month, a film crew for the reality show was accompanying a trooper who issued U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller a ticket for a broken taillight.

According to the Internet Movie Database, the troopers series has already aired several episodes this year in what will be its final season. Ipsen said more episodes that were previously filmed have not yet aired. All filming will end June 30, Cockrell told troopers.

Here is the full text of the email sent to Public Safety employees:

Good morning.

During a recent meeting with the producer of the Alaska State Troopers show, seen on Nat-Geo, a decision was made to end production after this season. Filming will conclude on June 30th, effectively ending the show after five years. The department left the possibility that the show could be renewed in couple of years if there is a desire among DPS to begin another chapter. The general consensus was that we, as an agency, needed to step back, take a break from filming and re-evaluate the consequences to our agency. This decision was not reflective of the production company (PSG) or the quality of their product. They have been responsive to our requests and have done an excellent job of accurately depicting our troopers and our mission. However, after five years it's time to stand down and focus on our principal mission of providing professional statewide law enforcement without any added outside distractions. j

-- Colonel James E. Cockrell

Director, Alaska State Troopers

E-mail reporter Kyle Hopkins at On Twitter: @adn_kylehopkins.

Kyle Hopkins

Kyle Hopkins is special projects editor of the Anchorage Daily News. He was the lead reporter on the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lawless" project and is part of an ongoing collaboration between the ADN and ProPublica's Local Reporting Network. He joined the ADN in 2004 and was also an editor and investigative reporter at KTUU-TV. Email