The Anchorage Police Department announced its new targeted crime plan Thursday. It focuses on getting into the community and developing relationships. APD will expand its foot patrols beyond downtown and into Mountain View, Fairview and Spenard.
Acting Deputy Chief Sean Case spoke during a news conference at the Mountain View Community Center.
“The goal of the foot patrol is to really put the police department in a position where we’re able to have that open dialog with people who live in these communities,” Case said. “They see things in a different light than we do. In order for us to really address some of the concerns and the problems in these neighborhoods, we have to be more available and accessible to them.”
Patrols will expand further as they continue to add more officers, Case said during a follow-up interview.
Mountain View resident Tasha Hotch said the changes will create a better environment in her neighborhood.
“You know, as I go door to door to invite people to things like our community council meetings or different events in the community, people are scared to answer their doors,” Hotch said. “And I think that having foot patrols and more community policing is going to have a big impact on that, where it will feel more like a community.”
The force will also focus more efforts on stopping drug distribution.
“What we can see is there is a connection between drugs, burglaries, thefts, vehicle thefts, and violence,” Deputy Chief Case explained.
As part of the plan, the Community Area Patrol unit will focus on street-level drug use, and the VICE unit will conduct longer-term investigations. The department will also increase their presence in areas where they receive lots of calls about shots being fired.
Administration spokesperson Myer Hutchinson said the force’s new directives are made possible by the growing number of trained officers. APD’s staff has increased by 50 people since July of 2015. The Anchorage Assembly voted to increase APD’s budget for 2016 and 2017, allowing the department to hold more training academies.