APD chief announces departure and his replacement

Chief Chris Tolley, speaking from the podium, announces news of his departure at a press conference ahead of the news that Captain Justin Doll, standing just to the left, will take over as chief in a few months. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

At a press conference Monday inside the Anchorage Police Department’s headquarters, Chief Chris Tolley announced he’s stepping down.

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“This morning I let all the personnel know of my planned retirement,” Tolley said after greeting a small gaggle of reporters.

Tolley took over APD in October of 2015, coming from outside the Department after a long career with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He was tasked with expanding the number of officers and improving morale for a department that had been reduced under the previous administration.

“It was very, very trying times,” Tolley said in an interview, connecting problems within APD to diminished staffing levels. “Everybody was being worked harder and harder, and the value of worth and productivity made them feel not real good about themselves.”

Tolley and the mayor’s administration believe the department has turned a corner. With increased funding approved by the Anchorage Assembly and additional police academies, the size of the force is now slightly above the Administration’s target at 410 sworn officers. According to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, APD is pivoting away from a rebuilding phase.

“One of the things that Chris Tolley and I wanted to do was make sure that the next chief would come from the ranks of current APD personnel,” Berkowitz said, ahead of announcing the department’s new leader, Captain Justin Doll.

Doll is a 20-year veteran of APD, who has worked in a variety of positions, from a motorcycle officer to a bomb technician. Most recently, Doll served as the head of the Crime Suppression Division, which handles many of the police department’s community-facing services like the 911 Dispatch Center and police academy recruitment.

Mayor Berkowitz campaigned on a platform of improving public safety through community policing, a somewhat vague set of policies that have been overshadowed as police and officials have struggled to handle two years of worsening violent crime. After he was introduced, Doll told the small crowd that with more officers in the pipeline, the department will begin trying new policing techniques.

“With another academy graduating in June, the Department’s really poised to start doing great things,” Doll said. “We’re looking forward to that: implementing innovative police strategies and really reaching out to the community, things like foot patrols and officers on bicycles.”

Doll formally takes over from Tolley on June 30th.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah