Campus cops keep students in check

Shae Bowman/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 1, 2013

UAF campus police offers Tony Aldesperger and Cathy Catron make sure Starvation Gulch participates are behaving appro- priately during the 90th Starvation Gulch on Saturday, Sept. 28. Shae Bowman/ Sun Star

UAF campus police offers Tony Aldesperger and Cathy Catron make sure Starvation Gulch participates are behaving appropriately during the 90th Starvation Gulch on Saturday, Sept. 28. Shae Bowman/Sun Star

This year was the 90th annual Starvation Gulch weekend. Although the weekend is meant to be a fun and exciting time of celebration, there is always a possibility for danger when a lot of  people are gathered in one place. The UAF Police Department works hard to ensure that the celebration remains fun and safe.

During Starvation Gulch, night officers Tony Aldesperger and Cathy Catron partnered up to patrol the event on foot.

Aldesperger said that one of the most important things that the police force can do is to “simply make their presence known. Throughout  the night, most people were happy to see the officers, comply with their requests and report any activities  they thought might be lead to an unhappy demise.

For example, one good citizen turned in a lost credit card he had found, while other individuals approached the officers throughout the night and thanked them for their services. Another citizen observed a fight break out and was able to identify the people instigating and write down their license plate number for the police officers.

Aldesperger, a 6-year campus police officer veteran, said he enjoys being on the force because it’s “something different every day” and he works with a great group of people.

He was inspired to be a cop for three main reasons. The first, being a cop runs in the family. The second, while working at Wal-Mart as a supplies stocker, Aldesperger found that theft of the merchandise was a big problem. He was frustrated that he wasn’t able to do anything more than report it to his supervisor.

The third reason was that Aldesperger was was inspired by the 1987 science fiction film Robocop, which watched as a kid.

Aldesperger said his least favorite part of the job is paperwork, adding that he would rather not get somebody in trouble if he doesn’t have too.

Prior to working at UAF, Catron worked for the Alaska State Troopers. After six months, Catron realized the job wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to get people in trouble but rather help them “find the best possible solution.” Catron began working as a UAF campus police officer in 2000 and has worked with the department since.

Catron had a good friend working in Human Resources for the state who thought Catron would make a good officer. Catron’s friend told her, she had the right disposition for it.” So Catron tried out for the police academy which was the right career move because she loves her job and you “have to love your job, to do it well.”

 Throughout the night, Catron commented on the numerous families with children that were present. “In recent years the bonfires have become much more family friendly and it has really helped to curb the crime during the event,” Catron said, “People respect that kind of thing and are willing to put away the alcohol and cut down on the swearing which leads to less fights overall.”

Aldesperger said the biggest problem every year is people getting into fights, typically alcoholrelated. Although the bonfires are an alcohol-free event, people still bring drinks. One of the major duties of the night is patrolling the scene looking for alcohol and confiscating it.

Individuals who had their alcohol confiscated during the event were very calm about the situation.

“If you are nice to people, they will be nice to you,” Catron said.

“Look at him, he patrols with a smile,” an event attendee said of Aldesperger.

Both the officers agreed that people at the event were well-behaved and the night went smoothly, especially compared to previous yearsevents

Shae Bowman is the crime reporter for the Sun Star. Bowman participated in a ride-along with officers Aldesperger and Catron on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 9 p.m. until midnight.

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