Alaska State Trooper captain becomes first Alaskan invited to speak at West Point
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anthony April, Alaska State Troopers B Detachment Capt., made history in February as the first Alaskan to be invited to speak at U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
April, an army veteran, has served almost 25 years with the State Troopers. Speaking at West Point is a moment that April says he will never forget.
“February is Black History Month,” April said. “Being able to go down there and speak at the academy, knowing that it’s a historic academy, going back to the 1800s, it was just beyond belief the opportunity go down there.”
Last year, during a retirement party in Fairbanks, April met West Point Chief of Staff Col. Brian Reed. April was approached to speak at the Academy after a conversation he had regarding the George Floyd killing, with Reed last year.
“He wanted to know kind of what was your take on that. One, being an African American commander and originally growing up in Miami,” April said. “So, we got on that conversation and he wanted to bring some of that same type of dialogue to the academy to have that interaction with the Cadets down there.”
April traveled to New York and spoke to the school’s leadership course on Feb. 24. He shared with them his wisdom and leadership experience gained while serving for the State Troopers. April said the speech highlighted some of the unique circumstances he faces as a law enforcement member in the state.
“I talked about some of the things we have no control of,” April said. “Social media for one, you know, we have those external things that we don’t have, we have some issues dealing with the distrust between law enforcement and the community that they do serve.”
The conversations April had in New York, he said, helped build connections between himself and the cadets.
“Just by me being down there in uniform and being a person of color, one of the things that the cadets, down there — and particularly the cadets of color — they had an instant connection with me because they saw someone that looked like them and the goal is to have, at the academy to have a reflection of society within their corps of cadets,” April said.
April said that his daughter and son-in-law both graduated from West Point, and said that it is a moment he will always remember.
“You could have anyone from anywhere around the world come down there and speak, but when they see someone that looks like you and also speaks truth to power, I say, it was refreshing for me as well as for those cadets.”
April says since that engagement, other universities have reached out and have asked him to speak. He said he looks forward to seeing where the future brings him with new speaking engagements.
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