Soldotna selects three finalists for police chief

A Soldotna wildlife trooper, a lieutenant from Ketchikan and a police chief in Kotzebue have been chosen to interview for a position as the City of Soldotna’s newest police chief. 


Each will interview on September 24. 

The city’s former police chief, John Lucking, left suddenly on June 11 after eight years with the city.  

Craig Moates, 54, is the current Chief of Police in Kotzebue. 

He has worked in law enforcement in Tennessee and Alaska for more than 25 years. He has five years of experience in Alaska law enforcement between Nome and Kotzebue. Moates said he applied for the position with Soldotna after hearing good things about the community. 

Moates said he enjoyed hunting and fishing and, in that respect, would fit right in on the peninsula. 

“I probably do what most Alaskans do and hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors,” he said. “It’s not always about getting the game and catching the fish it’s just about being outside.”

Joe White, 46, is the current Lieutenant of Investigations for the Ketchikan Police Department. 

White was born and raised in Ketchikan and Kodiak. He went to school in Fairbanks and graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage. 

After living in the Seattle area for a few years, White said he put himself through the police academy in 1995 and got a job with the Ketchikan Police Department where he has been for more than 16 years. 

“I started off as a patrolman, was the sergeant of patrol for five years, a lieutenant for two years, a school resource officer for four years,” he said. “I’m kind of to the point now where I’m kind of looking for new challenges.”

White said he has visited the Soldotna area before and enjoyed it. 

“The climate change would be nice,” he said. “We’re (Ketchikan) down in the lower Southeast. We get about 12 foot of rain a year.”

When he’s not working, White said he spends a lot of time outside with his kids, coaching little league games or riding bicycles. 

Pete Mlynarik, 50, is the commander of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers E detachment in Soldotna. 

Mlynarik started as a state trooper in 1990, switched to fish and wildlife protection, then back to being on patrol before settling into wildlife protection again in 2011. 

Mlynarik, of Cooper Landing, said he likes Soldotna and it would “fit right in” with where he wanted to be. 

He said he enjoyed being in a leadership role in law enforcement but thought he’d appreciate the difference in structure working for a city instead of the state. 

Mlynarik said his biggest hobby was exercising and weight lifting. 


Rashah McChesney can be reached at


Wed, 05/23/2018 - 21:28

Sohi graduates take the next step