Bianca Cross to be first woman to lead Anchorage Police Department

a woman talks into a mic
Capt. Bianca Cross (right) will head the Anchorage Police Department after the retirement of Chief Michael Kerle (left) at the end of April. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Bianca Cross has been named Anchorage’s next police chief, which will make her the first woman to lead the state’s largest police force.

Mayor Dave Bronson announced Cross’s promotion and the pending retirement of Chief Michael Kerle at a news conference Tuesday. 

Cross grew up in Anchorage and has worked for the Anchorage Police Department for 26 years, most recently serving as captain of APD’s detective unit. She will take over the chief job April 30.

“I’m committed to leading with compassion, inclusivity and transparency,” Cross said. “I look forward to collaborating with the community members, stakeholders and elected officials to address the challenges and opportunities facing our city.”

Cross said her initial priorities as chief will be working on the transition from Kerle, and maintaining focus on major city issues like crime and homelessness. 

“I have a lot of experience in the department, meaning the people that I work with,” Cross said. “And they have ideas, and working together would be our best bet to make sure that we work for the community and the department.”

Cross’s appointment comes as Bronson faces a reelection challenge from former Assembly chair Suzanne LaFrance. The two are headed to a runoff election in May

Bronson insisted at Tuesday’s news conference that naming Cross as chief wasn’t political. He said Kerle’s retirement has been planned for months.

“There is no agenda,” Bronson said. “The chief told me in December he’s going to retire. And there’s a cruise involved on this, a month-long cruise. So this was planned on his part.”

Kerle said he and his wife are kicking off his retirement with a cruise that starts May 1, in celebration of their anniversary. Otherwise, he said, he would’ve stayed on until July 1, when the next mayoral term starts. 

“I’ve never called in sick once,” Kerle said. “I’ve never taken a day off because I’ve been injured. I cash in most of my leave, I don’t take my leave. And I’ve worked a lot of overtime. I’ve given so much of myself to the city that I promised my wife that for our 30th anniversary, she would actually get the same amount of effort from me, for her, that I’ve given to the city.”

Kerle served the Anchorage Police Department for close to 28 years, and was chief for the last two. 

In response to a question of whether she would keep Cross as police chief if elected mayor, LaFrance said she’ll be “tracking these leadership developments closely.”

“What I really wish we were talking about today is the staffing crisis at APD,” LaFrance said in an email. “Today’s announcement comes as Anchorage is down over 50 sworn officers and another 30 non-sworn staff under Dave Bronson. Public safety is the number one job of local government. I wish the mayor’s press conference had been focused on finally bringing about a plan to restaff APD and make Anchorage safer.”

The Assembly must approve Cross as police chief. Bronson said he and Cross will be working on naming the deputy chiefs who will serve under her.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

Previous articleNew Dillingham group calls for unified approach to overdose prevention
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: Tuesday, April 9, 2024