ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker is arguably the most recognizable officer on the force -- but he says he didn't set out to become a public information officer.
"(I) had a one-week course on how to be a PIO in California and came back and started work," Parker said during an interview.
Parker has been with APD since 1995, and has held a variety of different positions. He started out as a patrol officer and worked his way up to detective.
Parker eventually moved into the department's Major Crimes Unit, where he began working on crimes against children and became an expert on investigating child homicides. He also helped assemble the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a group of state and federal law-enforcement agencies that work together on offenses like child pornography.
"They are what some of us would call true victims -- they are helpless victims," Parker said.
It's the type of job that can wear you down if you don't have something to keep you going, and for Parker that is his faith. Prior to becoming a cop, he was a pastor both in Anchorage and the Lower 48.
"I don't think I could be a cop if I didn't have that kind of faith," Parker said. "I think I'd be a cynic."
When he's not on duty, you can find Parker teaching Sunday school to 12 and 13-year-olds at Grace Christian School.
"What I love about Mr. Parker is his energy, and how he teaches," said one of his students, 13-year-old Hannah Crayton.
Parker also has teaching experience in the Yemen and the Ivory Coast. That's where he says he learned the importance of a free press.
"The press was not free in those places," Parker said. "The press never asked the hard questions because if they did, you know -- they could be in big trouble."
Parker is looking ahead toward retirement, but he's not sure when it will happen. He's been married to his wife Marge for 42 years, and they have two sons and eight grandchildren.
Email Jackie Bartz