When you’re experienced in law enforcement, you come to appreciate the importance of good back up.

On the day Chris Tolley was sworn in as Anchorage’s newest police chief, he also introduced his newest deputies: Deputy Chief Gary Gilliam and Deputy Chief Kenneth Spadafora.

Chances are you don’t know who Ken Spadafora is. But after 37 years of serving and protecting you, he’s really someone you should know.

He grew up in Seattle, and as the story goes, Spadafora was the kind of kid in high school who could take down kids bigger than him. He drove so fast that he was destined to end up on one side of the law or the other.

In 1978, just four years out of high school, Spadafora became an Anchorage Police Department patrol officer. It’s said he still has original citation book, because he didn’t become a cop to write tickets.

Within seven years he became a homicide detective, part of the team that brought down some of Anchorage’s most infamous killers, like Kirby Anthony and Winona Fletcher.

Spadafora wasn’t the kind of cop you wanted in a fight, he was THE cop.

A black belt in both Kenpo and Rembuki, he taught a generation of Anchorage police how to protect themselves as an instructor in defensive tactics.

He also spent a decade on the SWAT team, becoming a team leader. And ran Mt. Marathon races to stay in shape.

He spent three separate tours on patrol spanning 17 years, made sergeant in ’92 and lieutenant in 2008.

Along the way, Spadafora raised a family and became a grandfather. Go figure, the hard-as-nails cop turned out to have a soft interior.

He tried retiring, but it didn’t take. He came back to command the traffic division and dispatch, spearheading the city’s upgrade to a modern computer-assisted dispatch system. A new trick for a supposedly old cop.

And this year, after 37 years on the force, he’s become Anchorage’s new deputy chief of administration.

So how do I know so much about Ken Spadafora? Well as it turns out, I was one of those kids that he took down in high school wrestling. And he’s been one of my best friends ever since.

He’s a charter member of the Ice Tees and, fortunately for all of us, he’s a better cop than he is a golfer.

He’s a private man, and he will be less than happy that I did this story. But so what. You deserve it, Ken.

So thank you for your years of service, and congratulations on the promotion. Besides, what are you gonna do, arrest me?

John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.

The post Reality Check w/ John Tracy: An Anchorage cop you really should know appeared first on KTVA 11.