Anchorage FBI Special Agent in Charge Describes Work in Alaska

Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the FBI's Anchorage Division, describes working in Alaska.

Video Transcript

So much is different here. It’s a huge state. It’s you know two-and-a-half times the state of Texas and yet we have a population of 700,000, so they’re very spread out. It’s hard to get from point A to point B. If you’re in anchorage, there are roads to Fairbanks and there are roads down the Kenai Peninsula but other than that there are no roads. So if you want to go to the western part of the state you have to fly. If you want to go to Juneau you have to fly or take the ferry.

I’ve been told whenever I fly anywhere pack a change of clothes because the weather may not allow you to get back out. And I’ve found that to be true on a couple of occasions. And then there’s the climate of the state. It really is or can be a very harsh environment. And if you’re not prepared you can easily die out there.

After I’d been here about three months I drove up to Fairbanks which you know I’ve been on a lot of offices, I’ve covered a lot of territory, and Fairbanks is only about 350 miles away from here. But it took us seven and a half hours to drive because it’s a two lane road, it’s snow packed, it’s icy, and if you go off the road which a colleague of mine did, you know, there’s no cell service, you can’t call a tow truck, so hopefully somebody will drive to get cell service to call a tow truck and then you have to wait for that tow truck to arrive from who knows where. So it’s a, it can be a very challenging place to work.

The flip side of that is that everybody knows that, so everybody works together, we work great with the other law enforcement agencies, everybody’s got each other’s back because you just can’t survive up here alone.

I think the people that are most successful up here are the people that come here with an idea that this is going to be a great adventure and there’s a lot for me to do here, there’s a lot of things for me to experience here and I am going to go out and experience as much as I can in the time I have here. The people that are here are generally some of the happiest people in the Bureau I’ve worked with. They love to fish, they love to hunt, they love to hike, and they take advantage of all that the area has to offer.

And you couple that with some of the friendliest people that I’ve ever met in my travels. You just feel very welcomed here. So if you have that desire to pursue adventure, if you’re open and outgoing and like to talk to people, you will succeed here because people will be happy to talk to you. People will be happy to tell you their experiences. You just have to be open to all that the area has to offer and you will succeed here.

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