In a time of budget cuts across the board for state and local agencies in Alaska, the Anchorage Police Department has been spared. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz plans to add 56 officers in the 2017 fiscal year.

Thursday night, Berkowitz, joined by APD Lt. Jack Carson, held a town hall meeting in Spenard to let the community know where things are at, and to listen to any concerns.

Since taking office Berkowitz has pushed to beef up the police force. Carson says they’re finally starting to move from reactive policing to proactive policing. They expect meetings like Thursday night’s to help them get there.

“If we can get the citizens involved in working with us, we can create such a bigger impact on our city,” Carson explained.

Residents like Nate LaValley say the silver lining to having crime in the community is increased community involvement.

“I guess we all finally get pissed off together enough to say, ‘Enough is enough,” LaValley said.

He’s joined a community safety patrol in his neighborhood, and is now attending public meetings to stay informed, but says he’s not sure if more officers is the answer.

“It seems like the answer is, ‘More officers more officers.’ It seems like that’s more money,” LaValley said. “I don’t know if the city won the lottery or what have you.”

But Carson says they’ll never have as many as they would in a perfect world.

“At this very time, do we have enough officers to go out there and truly implement community policing? No. We’re a little ways away from that. We need more officers, but it’s exciting that we’re getting there.”

He says the recently added Downtown foot patrols and the undercover officers they’ve placed on the streets are an example of what they can do with more.

“We have undercover officers out there right now trying to seek out some other criminal activity in areas that the community has called in and reported crime,” Carson noted.

An issue brought up frequently during the town hall was homelessness, which came as no surprise to Carson.

“We’ve looked across the nation at what other departments are doing. There’s not an exact answer on how to solve the problem,” Carson said.

Some residents say after reporting the same crimes repeatedly, they’ve become discouraged. But Carson encouraged them to keep reporting issues in their neighborhoods.

He says Anchorage residents can expect meetings like Thursday night’s to continue.

KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter


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