‘The buck stops with me’: Mayor Berkowitz takes responsibility for encrypting Anchorage scanners
On Friday, an announcement in the form of a letter from Anchorage Municipal Manager Mike Abbott informed news outlets of the decision to cut off public access to Anchorage police and fire departments radio feeds. The decision has sparked community concerns about public safety and transparency.
With scanners silent, those worries became a reality on Monday for people who live near Linda Lane when they learned police officers were searching for an armed man who broke into a home and shot the homeowner. APD didn’t release any information to the public or media about the safety threat until 11 hours later.
Tuesday night, when it was time for public comments, one man brought his concerns to the Anchorage Assembly.
Vice Chairman Dick Traini said the Assembly wasn’t responsible for the change, and asked to know who made the decision to encrypt all public safety communications.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz answered, “The buck stops with me. It’s my decision.”
He went on to say the reasons for his decision are “far more complicated” than what the resident had shared with the Assembly.
Abbott has been handling communication and interviews regarding the decision. He’s given two reasons for why the mayor made the change.
First, he said the decision is tactical, aimed at keeping officers safe.
“We now know that information gleaned from our dispatch system that was broadcast over the internet was used to either avoid APD’s responses to crimes or attempt to ambush officers,” he wrote in the announcement letter.
Secondly, he said they’re worried about protecting the privacy of victims of crimes and patients experiencing health emergencies, as their personal information is sometimes shared over the scanners.
But during an interview on Monday, when asked how long the community should have to wait to learn about a public safety threat, he answered, “I don’t know.”
You can watch KTVA 11 reporter Daniella Rivera‘s full, unedited interview with Abbott here:
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