Mayor, police chief address crime concerns in Valley of the Moon Park
Just feet away from where the most recent double homicide victims were killed, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Anchorage Police Department Chief Chris Tolley gathered with dozens of Vally of the Moon residents, Thursday night, to discuss solutions to the rise in violent crime in Anchorage.
The meeting was prompted by a letter to Berkowitz, signed by 94 residents, just two days after Kevin Turner, 34, and Brie De Husson, 25, were found dead in the West Anchorage park.
Berkowitz and Tolley discussed solutions they’re looking at, including growing the police force, putting better lighting and markers on the trails, and working on the city’s homeless issues.
One man named Paul, who would only share his first name with KTVA, said he’s frustrated with the lack of police officers on the streets.
Tolley told him, “I feel your pain.”
“People are dying. They’re being murdered in our neighborhoods, OK? So feeling the pain is great, we need officers,” shouted Paul.
APD has 386 sworn officers. According to Berkowitz, they need at least 450 to transition from being a department that reacts to crime, to being a force that can prevent crime.
With the homicide count at 25, Anchorage is on rack to set a new record by the end of 2016. APD has released little information about the unsolved murders, specifically the three double homicides that happened on the trail system, but they have warned residents to avoid parks, trails and isolated areas after dark.
“If you say don’t go out, then we’ve failed as a society. We’ve given up our public space. We can’t do that,” said resident Anthony Fischbach.
Tolley took multiple questions from people who wanted to know who is behind the unsolved double homicides and if it’s the same person.
“How did those murders happen? Were people sniped from the woods? Or were they attacked?” asked Ansel Sandone, adding that this is the first time he hasn’t felt safe in his neighborhood.
As much as people want answers, they also want to help. One woman asked what the community can do now.
“What can you do? Be strong, be a good family member, be a good neighbor. Somebody out here has information and that information is not coming forward,” said Tolley.
In the letter sent to Berkowitz, the community asked for more patrols.
“I didn’t hear a direct answer about more patrols,” said Fischbach after the meeting.
He says he left the park with a sense of community, that everyone is in this together, but that he doesn’t feel any safer.
Berkowitz says he’ll be at some community council meetings coming up to answer more questions about public safety.
KTVA 11's Daniella Rivera contributed to this report.
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