barney fife bullet
Rogers and Cowan, Beverly Hills / Public domain
Previous Post
Next Post

Today’s defensive gun use of the day comes to us from The Last Frontier. Earlier this month, a 19-year-old man in fatigues broke into a municipal building in the town of Kwethluk in southwest Alaska. According to Alaska Public Radio, “He staged rifles inside, and activated the fire alert system. When village police officers responded, the officers say that [Brian] Nicolai shot at them. But no one was hurt, largely thanks to an armed resident who got Nicolai to give up his weapon and lie on the ground.”

There was concern that Nicolai had been planning a mass shooting. Fortunately none of the cops were injured. Not that they could have done much to defend themselves since village police officers don’t carry firearms.

[Officer Tiger] Lee ran away as Nicolai fired in his direction, according to Lee and troopers. He took cover behind a shipping container with another VPO, Wassillie Nick, who arrived as backup. Although VPOs responded first, it was ultimately a resident who defused the situation. The difference between the officers and the resident was that the resident had a gun.

Yes, a gun tends to be a big help to an officer of the law when he finds himself under fire. Thankfully, Casey Thompson, a Kwethluk local, had a rifle (as you’d expect of, well, 98% of Alaskans). Thompson held the gun on Nicolai and convinced him to give himself up.

The situation has the local constabulary re-thinking their approach to patrolling the town.

Lee said that he’s glad Thompson had a gun, and believes VPOs should be able to carry them.

“If we had access to firearms, we’d be able to handle more of these scenarios on our own,” Lee said.

Deputy Chief David Berezkin agrees, for certain cases.

“Sometimes that show of force helps,” Berezkin said.

Yes. Yes it does.


[h/t Latin X]

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. What is up with that ? Alaska with all those aminals that want to eat you & crazy drunks in the boonies?
    No guns for the law? Nutzzo me thinks.

    • I agree 110% there brother, especially in Alaska with all those animals that like to have humans for dessert (literally). I’ve been in Security work for over 10 years and I would not think of going on-shift without a firearm.

    • that is for the VPO that is basically a volunteer village residents and they are all known in the small villages and very seldom have any problems and when they do they just back off and let the trouble maker cool off and call in state police and they come out and take the person in at least the way I understand it from watching shows about Alaska state police otherwise I don’t know too cold up there for me

  2. I’d like a follow up to this story in a few months to see if they change their policy. Not having the money is no excuse, there is money and equipment available at every government level ending with surplus from the feds. There is a cost exempt list for government surplus. Boy Scouts and legitimate Police departments are just 2 of many groups that qualify. My guess is that this village is just a bit ignorant of what’s available to them. Hopefully the state or governing authority has stepped in to help out.

      • That’s it he did say certain cases. Would make me feel real safe. Be your own first responder.

    • I was a county reserve officer for 8 years. We purchased all of our own equipment including firearms. There is no way on God’s green earth that any of us would have gone on duty unarmed! This policy, in Alaska of all places, has never made any sense to me, made even more nonsensical when you consider that armed LEO backup is often hours away with many of these villages accessible only by bush plane.

    • It’s complicated in rural Alaskan towns. There are no State Troopers or certified Police officers stationed there. There are VPO’s – Village Police Officers hired by the local towns who have no police training at all but volunteer for very little pay to put their lives on the line. State Trained and Certified Village Public Safety Officers are trained in basic policing skills but don’t yet get firearms training or issued guns. That is actually in the process of being changed as we speak because of instances like the one reported.
      Senator Murkowski is in the process of being voted out as she is a rino. The useless governor is the subject of a huge recall petition and the Anchorage mayor is also. I guess we have been infiltrated by liberals from downstates…

      • why not let the volunteers provide their own equipment? The only excuse I can think of is “liability” since they have no formal police/weapon certifications. As if liability rendering volunteer police useless so that equally “non-certified” citizens have to step up and deal with things is better somehow.

  3. “The situation has the local constabulary re-thinking their approach to patrolling the town.”


    Is this some part of Alaska that detached from the mainland and floated too close to the left coast of Oregon?

    • According to an article I read on a major news site earlier, the village’s police force doesn’ t have the budget to equip their small police force with sidearms and gear.

      Perhaps they can simply deputize that privaye citizen who has the rifle…problem solved.

      • They could hold a bake sale!

        Assuming they applied for Federal and State grants.

        Budgets are ALWAYS statements of priority.

      • As the first commenter notes, dangerous wildlife would seem sufficient reason for them to be armed. Hungry bear isn’t likely to wait inside until an armed citizen can arrive to help.

      • I Haz – likely the same article I read – the village council claimed that the reason the VPSO (village public safety officers) are not armed is that they have to send them to the lower 48 for 2 to 3 months for the proper training and can’t afford it. Makes ya wonder where the rest of the coppers up there get their training (insert eye roll).
        The Alaska State Troopers get theirs at the academy in Sitka.

        • Front Sight Academy maintains a satellite location in Alaska, open during the summer months. They can train there.

          Or, they can bring an accredited instructor to them.

          Options are always available for those who look for them.

          [Edit – the edit function just appeared for the first ever!!]

        • What kind of training do they need??? On-line training is everywhere. Hands-on practice is in their back yard. Get some cans, or paper & magic marker, gets some .22 practice ammo. Is this rocket science? Anything is better than nothing. Is Alaska home of the snowflakes, now? This article makes me think there’s a possible movie script here.

        • The shooting skill requirements for the average police agency is about what is expected at the end of a beginner pistol class, easily achievable by somebody who can get through an intermediate class, and a less difficult than a lot of prerequisites for advanced classes.
          Since a beginner class is ~8hrs… they’re lying.

        • Doesn’t anybody just have Daddy teach them? I mean, 3 MONTHS? USAF taught me to use twin .50 machine guns mounted in the nose of a jet aircraft in 3 months.

        • Historically a person who got hired as a cop had to provide their own gun. And everything they needed for the job. Everything paid for out of their own pocket. In small rural towns this seems to be still the case.

          to Larry in TX
          Did you fly an F-86? They had quad 50s in the beginning. I know the F-100 had quad 20mm. I don’t remember if the A-37 had guns or not. I know the OV-10 Bronco had quad 50s. But that was a turboprop. It was great to see all of them at the airshows in the middle 1970s in California.

          The Bronco was still on active duty when I was stationed in Hawaii in the 1980s. I think at Wheeler AFB.

      • It doesn’t take a budget. Just tell the officers that they have permission to supply their own guns, with management approval required for any particular gun model that it is sufficiently effective and reliable, and rules to be followed as to when they are allowed to point it at someone. Training can be any already existing online program, selected by management, in combination with whatever classes management wishes to teach.

  4. Many of the smaller towns and villages. In what is considered the Alaskan Outback. Do not have regular police officers. They are governed by a Tribal Counsel. They generally have someone who acts as a “Peace officer”. To deal with minor problems. If something major occurs an Alaskan Highway Patrol officer is flown in to deal with the issue. Seen this on a TV show about Alaskan Law Enforcement. It does seem stupid to not be armed. As almost everyone in Alaska owns a firearm. Stupid Games…Stupid Prizes.

    • I seem to remember reading (many years ago) that this is the case in quite a few villages in Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada. The local constabulary are simply peace officers (getting drunks off the streets and defusing squabbles) and rely on the Mounties for the heavy stuff, whenever they happen to show up (twice a month if their lucky)

    • Yeah, I know. We just saw “Yellowstone” series. Do-it-yourself law enforcement with Kevin Costner.

  5. Well now…
    There’s a reason Barney Fife only had one boolit.
    Is that the reason that the VPO’s are unarmed?
    The founders believed the “whole of the people should be trained an armed”
    I’m truly happy the armed citizen was successful in talking the armed assailant into surrendering. Maybe he should be the VPO.

    • George Mason had it right. “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”

      Since police as we know them did not exist they should be counted among the “few public officials”.
      Modern law enforcement are part of the standing armies the Founders warned us about.

  6. Way back when I was at Northeastern University, I considered a co-op job as an unarmed constable on a Maine island.

    I declined.

    • Whoa…

      Could it be there’s an entire village where all the women just won’t listen? (Running away, *FAST*!!! 😉 )

  7. Googled this little village, it’s deep inside Alaska, less than 800 people. No surprise the tax base will not pay for cop equipment.

    But it’s Alaska! So how is it these ten village cops do not have their own guns?

    Just doesn’t make any sense.

    • Yeah how many times have I seen a help wanted ad that said “must own tools”?

      • Which is why it is ridiculous for tax payers to provide uniforms and equipment to the tax fattened thugs working as LEOs today. Let them buy their own clothing and equipment.

        • Exactly, a unarmed cop is a good cop. Atleast that way they can’t kill any innocent people.

  8. “Sometimes that show of force helps”

    Well it’s either that or hoping that the criminal has respect for authority.

  9. And people ridicule me for suggesting having a system like this as it was in Colonial times. Worked there. Will work anywhere. I’d stand my monthly watch. How about you?

  10. I think a community where the citizens are armed but the police are NOT sounds like the right idea to me.

  11. Clearly the author and most of the commenters don’t know the difference between a Village Patrol Officer and a regular law enforcement officer.

    • Doesn’t matter. A dumb idea is still a dumb idea, regardless of your job title

      • It matters when you sound like the moron you are, opining on a subject you’re ignorant about.
        Which is the author and 95 percent of the comments.
        Which is about par for a TTAG article.

        • H’mm, sounds like you don’t particularly care for TTAG, ‘don’.

          You won’t be missed, dude.

          Don’t let the door hit ya, where the good Lord has split ya! 🙂

        • Geoff. It’s a damn good thing I’m in the 5% that gets it. Or my feelings would be hurt. Don Ward being so well known and respected around here and all.

  12. Giving guns to cops inflates their egos more than it helps the public. Give them a hammer… Guns used to be all about self defense, now they are used to enforce the law. Other countries do not give their general law enforcement guns for that reason, they have a special trained group who gets to have guns.

    • You have noticed just about all those countries do not trust their normal citizens with firearms at all right?

  13. Whoever wrote this isn’t from Alaska. Most cities and towns have Cops and Troopers. Villages have VPSO’s (Village Public Safety Officer’s) that actually live in the Village, and Trooper’s that come through when needed, but they typically have to fly themselves in to respond. VPSO’s aren’t allowed to carry guns, and that’s sometimes a good thing, since some of them couldn’t pass a background check anyway. Those who can pass a background check should probably be able to.

    • Do they have any authority or are they just “observe and report” types? If the former, I’d be worried if they can’t pass a background check…

    • The article isn’t about VPSOs. These guys are VPOs and TPOs, not VPSOs. They don’t even approach VPSOs. VPSOs are rigorous professionals compared to VPOs. Really, the author knows little of how unique “law enforcement” in third world Alaska villages really is. Guys, they don’t even have running water. In many of these villages, the only applicants for the “job” all have violent felony records, and get the job. This is nothing like a rural town in the continental US.

  14. Wow in Alasska too… reminds me of the regular whiny news reports pleading for $ to get boo-lit proof vests-for ossifers making $100000! Buy your own. Duh😋😋😋😋😋

  15. One has to believe that the more citizens are armed, the more restrained they will act.
    I’m guessing the police station was a “gun free zone”. That, in order for the police to appear “less threatening” and to make the population more likely to cooperate with investigations.

    Does anyone think that entire no weapons strategy will be reviewed (more importantly) then acted upon?

  16. Former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin would have corrected this problem instantly! Also, in response to the ASSHOLE that tried to ridicule the person that wasn’t aware that Village Patrol Officers don’t carry firearms, [ which is ridiculous], i sincerely hope that someday you are in a position where an armed citizen could have saved your life but there wasn’t one present! Why don’t you run for president of an ANTI-GUN GROUP. YOU ASSHOLE! I was a Navy Seal for six years and it makes me sick to think we risk our lives to defend low life cowards like you. I would love to meet you in person and give you an attitude adjustment! Silver Fox

    • Oh look. Another moron who doesn’t understand how VPOs work, their legal jurisdiction, and the politics and culture and history behind it.
      Gotta love keyboard warriors.

      • H’mm, sounds like you don’t particularly care for TTAG, ‘don’.

        You won’t be missed, dude.

        Don’t let the door hit ya, where the good Lord has split ya! 🙂

  17. This isn’t about affording police equipment or training, and the generic use of the term. Cops” is misleading. In most of inner Alaska, especially small native villages, the actual “cops” are the Alaska State Troopers. Because they are so thinly spread out, with long response times often dependent on weather, villages have unarmed village safety officers, who handle local disputes and call in the state troopers when they need help or need to have someone formally arrested. They are somewhat more like a very active neighborhood watch than sworn police officers. These were the “unarmed cops” referred to in the article.

    • In a place I worked there weren’t enough cops so they hired kids barely out of high school as “Public Safety Aids” who were given ticket books and sent out to write parkers and even civil citations for municipal infractions. That’s nuts in and of itself in my mind (writing tickets to a parked car is still bad but not as dangerous as the issues surrounding writing one to a person) but they were also dressed in the same police uniform except with a different badge.

      I don’t think you could pay me enough to do that unarmed. And I can’t help but notice that they recently switched them over to different uniforms. I wonder what prompted that…

  18. “Lee ran away as Nicolai fired in his direction, according to Lee and troopers. He took cover behind a shipping container with another VPO, Wassillie Nick, who arrived as backup…”

    “Hey, your backup has arrived, now you don’t have to die alone!”

  19. Alaska has pumped and dug money right out of the ground for decades. I’m sure they could find a way to tool up their VPO force if they wanted to.

  20. This is how it should be. Civilians, government employees not in the military, should not be armed and cops are civilians.
    If the LEO is worthy of assistance, a citizen may at their discretion provide it to them. If the LEO is a badge heavy thug, then maybe he is getting what he has coming to him.

    The rights and safety of citizens are more important than the safety of a government employee.

    • So citizens should be armed, except citizens who are policemen. The lives of citizens don’t matter if that citizen happens to be a cop, and the natural right and constitutional right to self defense doesn’t apply to a citizen who is a police officer. How about off duty? Do cops have your sovereign blessing to defend themselves on their own time?


      • Bravo. I love it when the cop-haters get so extreme that they defy their own logic. I dislike the militarization of American law enforcement as much as any conservative, but as citizens the police have the same rights other American’s (no less, no more) and suddenly they are second-class citizens who’s rights and personal safety are subject to the whim of popular opinion because some angry guy who just got a ticket thinks they’re all bastards.

  21. “But no one was hurt, largely thanks to an armed resident who got Nicolai to give up his weapon and lie on the ground.”

    Note, the citizen did not shoot the suspect. If an armed cop had been on scene the suspect, any citizens down range and any dogs within a 20 mile radius would have been pumped full of lead.

  22. It’s hard to believe that any Alaska LEOs of any kind wouldn’t have their own firearms. It’s freakin’ Alaska — where even nuns have firearms.

  23. Reading up on it these “Village Public Safety Officers” are not police. They have very little training. Kind of a service auxiliary.. They do all sorts of fire, EMS, SAR and assistance tasks to the State Troopers. But they are not expected to handle bad guys, shooters, etc.

    Which just goes to show that Alaska hasn’t spent all that oil money as they should have.

    In any case, citizens of the USA have the right to keep and bear arms. Specifically denying that right to “Village Public Safety Officers” hours removed from armed support is just plain stupid.

    • And once again, the town In the article doesn’t have any VPSOs. It has VPOs. They are even lower than VPSOs. Any unemployed alcoholic with a sexual assault background can get the VPO “job” which has probably been vacant for a year. He shares an ATV with 7 other “officers” and works from a “station” with no water or power, and tries to get the kids to go home after curfew and stop the homebrew (you all know alcohol isn’t even legal in these villages, right?).

    • After reading this thread, I’m thinking these villages have not seen ANY of that oil money.

    • Put some weapons inside for use later against VPOs, apparently, since he then called the VPOs to come be targets.

  24. If there is only a population of 800 ……. and they have no guns ……

    Why have 10 officers? Fodder?

    Do they get paid?

    Boggles my mind.

    • Looks like the plan is for 6 or 8 to use up his ammo so the survivors can overpower him with superior numbers. ie, fodder!

  25. Strange, I thought Alaska was part of the USA, how is it there is a Police Department that does not allow officers to carry a firearm? Even more importantly, how can they actually stipulate that they cannot bear arms, when the Constitution protects every one’s right to do so? This is truly messed up . . .

    • I’m not sure 2A guarantees your right to carry “while working”, might be a good argument.

  26. The original “police” model in the USA had UNARMED officers who when necessary called upon ARMED citizens for assistance. A model that worked than and obviously STILL WORKS. And the upside…….a
    LOT of family pets will live a LOT longer.

    • haha, nice. I like how people are talking shit about these responders, when the only thing that came to mind was “so, someone took a stand in a government building waiting for tyrants to show up” after reading the headline. Who cares if these guys pass a background check… what worries me is the ones who do and continue to manipulate the law in their favor to infringe on your rights. I could care less about a felon. That’s why I carry. I don’t wait for “peace officers” to protect the shit out of me with their batons.

      • Yeah, village of 800? Why would we think there is one place in village where background check could be accomplished?

  27. seriously people would stop and think about this a minute this is a country or any citizen just about who is a legal age and hasn’t committed felonies can have a weapon and the police are not carrying weapons? those are police officers those are targets

  28. I say disarm the police. I hope California is fist to disarm all their law enforcement. Since they hate cops so much there. Let’s get this experiment going. They can be the model for the other Blue States to follow. Since they also hate cops so much.

    Somewhere on the internet there is a long list of times when a cops life was saved by a civilian with a gun. I think the NRA has such a list.

    • I have heard of quite a few, quickly forgotten by the liberal media. That still would not convince me to be a cop without a gun. Maybe a half-million a year? And then I’d carry in secret, while refusing any assignment involving “man with gun” or such.

Comments are closed.