The start of the 2019 fall semester brought not only new students to the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, but a new university police chief as well.
In 2018, former Police Chief Brad Munn retired after 16 years of service to the UAA University Police Department, and UPD officer Michael Beckner stepped in to serve as interim police chief until a new chief was selected. After months of interviews and meetings at UAA, Jeff Earle was selected to be UAA’s new police chief.
Chief Earle, his wife and family came to Alaska from San Antonio, Texas. Earle previously served as a captain and director of Clery Compliance/Emergency Management at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
“I’ve spent my whole career in higher education law enforcement. I literally started off as a work-study student or a student employee over twenty years ago at a university, and sort of progressed and worked my way up from there,” Earle said.
Earle received a bachelor of arts in political science at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. As a student employee involved in higher education law enforcement, Earle laid the foundations for a career that has spanned over two decades and led to opportunities with other colleges and universities.
“I left Austin, which is where I was, and then moved to San Antonio to work [at St. Mary’s University], and was responsible for kind of everything,” Earle said. “[The duties included] helping everybody and doing everything else that needed to be done, whether it was parking, front office [or] all the other things, to really kind of round out everything we were doing as an agency.”
During his career, Earle has held multiple positions, including working as a patrol officer, detective, emergency management coordinator and sergeant. Each position has involved a multitude of duties as well, ranging from investigations to event safety.
Earle chose to pursue the position of police captain at UAA as a chance for him and his family to try something new.
“I decided I wanted to take my career to the next step. I put in an application when I saw this position open,” Earle said.
UAA offered unique opportunities for Earle to further his career, but Anchorage also offered new adventures for him and his family.
“Anchorage is an up and coming cosmopolitan city that I thought would be a wonderful place for raising my kids, and doing different things along those lines,” Earle said. “I thought, ‘you know what? Let’s take a leap of faith and go.’”
During the application and interview process over this past summer, Earle visited and interacted with members of the UAA community.
“I really enjoyed the university and really enjoyed the people that I met,” Earle said. “It looked like an incredible, good group of people and a very dedicated department staff within the police department.”
For now, Earle is working with the UAA University Police Department as he completes what he calls a “listening tour.” He describes the tour as communicating with students, staff and faculty throughout UAA and by attending events, such as the Faculty Senate meeting in October, and introducing himself. From these experiences, Earle can work on determining his goals for the department.
One goal that Earle is working towards is making sure that UPD is fully staffed. Currently, UPD is looking to add new officers to their department roster.
When not in uniform, Earle enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the outdoors.
“When I leave [work], it’s [time outside of work] probably full-time Dad, and whatever the kids are doing or are wanting to do kind of dictates the rest of my schedule,” he said.
With five kids at home, outdoor activities are a must in the Earle household, and Alaska delivers that in ways that can’t be found in Texas, Earle says.
“[Earle children are] very active in scouting, and that’s been a really good thing to find up here,” Earle said. “That’s enjoyable because it gets them outside, it’s teaching them survival skills and the things they want and need, and they just have a blast making new friends doing that.”
As Alaska moves into winter, Earle has received advice from his fellow Alaskans and coworkers on how to prepare for the coming winter.
“I jokingly have been telling people that I think I’m being hazed a little bit because everyone keeps whispering to me ‘winter is coming’ from ’Game of Thrones,’” Earle said. “At first, I laughed it off being a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan, but now all of a sudden I’m starting to get a little anxious.”
An Alaska winter may be a big difference when compared to the Texas heat, but there are definite similarities as well, Earle said.
“Alaskan culture is very special. It’s filled with a lot of warmth and caring that is not that much than different Texas, so it’s really nice,” Earle said. “Except for the size jokes. At this point, we’re a little tired of the size jokes.”
Chief Earle can be reached at the UPD offices in Eugene Short Hall, room 114 or by calling UPD’s non-emergency number at (907) 786-1120. In the event of an actual emergency, please call 911.