Few realize the immense size and geographical and environmental diversity of Alaska. It’s bigger than the next three largest states combined, and its coastline is longer than the coastline hugging the entirety of the lower 48 states. Vast in size, the state experiences an extreme variety of temperatures—from arctic lows of -50 degrees Fahrenheit to summertime highs of 90 degrees. During the long wintertime, darkness, snow, blinding wind and sleet are constants. During the brief summer respite, the sun never sets. Living in Alaska is a daily challenge for the state’s 731,449-person-strong population, most of whom are transient (about 70 percent of the residents of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, are from somewhere else). And thanks to the state’s size, dispersed population and harsh climate, policing is a major challenge, too. Certainly, the extreme weather and geography put heavy demands on the equipment used by Alaska’s foremost law enforcement agents, the state troopers. Whether deep in the Alaskan snow tracking poachers or sailing on small craft in the rough, cold waters off of the Bering Sea, Alaska’s finest carry GLOCK autopistols. Alaska is a tough place that requires tough people and tough weapons—and no sidearm is tougher than the GLOCK 22 Gen4 pistol.

“The out-of-the-box accuracy of the G22 Gen4 is phenomenal—it is definitely impressive. What really helps is the new dual recoil spring, which facilitates quick follow-up shots.”

The Alaska State Troopers (AST), founded officially in 1941, is the primary statewide organization charged with keeping the peace. In reality, the AST is the only police force in Alaska capable of enforcing on land, air and sea not only criminal law, but also the state’s traffic, hunting and fishing regulations. Though largely rural, Alaska faces criminal problems not unlike those experienced by major cities, including drug manufacture and sales, sexual assault and even bootlegging, as many areas are “dry,” prohibiting the importation and sale of alcoholic beverages. That Alaska is a uniquely difficult area in which to live can be seen in the state’s persistent mental health, substance abuse and alcohol-fueled domestic violence issues, all of which occupy the troopers’ time. I had the opportunity to ride along with the AST during training, practice and routine operations around the cities of Anchorage, Palmer and Wasilla, and up and down the river valleys of the Matanuska, Knik and Susitna, observing the agents as they worked to protect both Alaskans and the many visitors who come to the great white north to hunt, fish or simply take in the extraordinary splendor of America’s 49th state.

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