Assembly leaders aim to postpone police chief confirmation until LaFrance takes office

Anchorage police chief-designee Bianca Cross speaks at a press conference on June 3, 2024. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Assembly leaders want to postpone the new police chief’s confirmation until Mayor Suzanne LaFrance takes office. 

In April, Mayor Dave Bronson named Bianca Cross to be Anchorage police chief after former chief Michael Kerle announced his retirement. Bronson lost his reelection bid the following month in a runoff with LaFrance. 

Cross’s appointment is subject to Assembly confirmation. 

That vote is currently scheduled for Tuesday night, but Assembly chair Chris Constant said he plans to ask the full body to delay the vote. He said the decision to name the next chief should come from the next administration. 

“We find ourselves in a position where, as the transition is moving forward, it’s just no longer Mayor Bronson’s authority to make such an appointment,” Constant said. “So the question will be delayed until July.”

Constant said the delay also gives the Assembly time to go over Cross’s qualifications before they make a decision. A 26-year veteran of the Anchorage Police Department, Cross’s tenure as chief-designee has been notable for three separate police shootings in less than a month that resulted in two deaths. 

“We’ve had such a bumpy last month, which isn’t really her fault,” Constant said. “She can’t control how shootings go in the community. But there’s a really hot conversation happening, and so for a lot of reasons, there’s just a lot of questions.”

A spokesperson for Cross declined to comment on the delay of her confirmation vote.

Cross has faced criticism for opting not to release the body camera footage of any of the three shootings. 

Officers shot and killed 34-year-old Kristopher Handy while responding to a report of a domestic dispute on May 13. While police officials initially reported that Handy had pointed a long gun at officers, security footage from a neighbor suggested otherwise.

Cross later acknowledged that the neighbor’s security footage “appears to many to differ from the initial statement we provided regarding the event.”

While Handy’s family has demanded the department release the body camera footage of the incident, Cross maintained that she wouldn’t release any body camera footage of police shootings before an investigation from the state Office of Special Prosecutions and APD’s internal affairs unit wraps up. 

On June 1, Anchorage officers shot and injured 22-year-old Kaleb Bourdukofsky after he allegedly shot two men downtown, killing one. Two days later, 21-year-old Tyler May was shot and killed by Anchorage police after officers responded to a report of shots being fired near a Fairview senior center.

At a press conference regarding the shooting of May, Cross said the three incidents aren’t connected.

If confirmed, Cross would be the first female Anchorage police chief. LaFrance will begin her tenure as the first woman elected to be Anchorage mayor on July 1.

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.

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