Anchorage Police Department Chief Chris Tolley and officer John Goetz stopped by the KTVA studio to discuss the impact of recent shootings involving police.

Goetz was one of three APD officers who traveled to Dallas to attend the funerals for the five officers shot and killed by a sniper during a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, including officer Lorne Aherns, whose father Goetz described as his best friend. He said returning home to learn three more officers had been killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was “disheartening.”

“People need to understand that when police officers are attacked in this fashion, where we’re specifically targeted, it’s not just an attack upon us, it’s an attack upon you,” he explained. “Because we work, we’re here to represent our communities, to protect you, to uphold the law so we have an orderly society. So I think the community needs to take these attacks personally and understand that we’re here on your behalf.”

Tolley noted that while there’s tension throughout the U.S. related to police-involved shootings, Anchorage residents have continued to show their support of the police department.

“We are so fortunate here in Anchorage to have such a strong community, one that supports the police department,” he said. “Ironically, the past few weeks, we’ve received so many emails, telephone calls, messages of individuals wanting to show their gratitude and appreciation for the police department. When we show up at events, they stop us on the street and shake our hands, they want to hug us. It’s so humbling.”

The public has several opportunities throughout the year to meet and interact with Anchorage police, according to Tolley. He highlighted the upcoming Coffee with a Cop at Jitters in Eagle River on Wednesday.

“We also have a citizens academy that we do twice a year where we invite individuals, they come in for quite a few – for several weeks and they spend the evening with us and learn all different aspects of the department,” Tolley said. “We do the same thing with our youth. Once in the fall and once in the spring during their breaks. Probably the most important thing available is ride-alongs. We do a lot of ride-alongs with citizens, and we invite you to come in, any shift, any day of the week, and see just firsthand what an officer goes through.”

For more information on police interactions in the community, visit the department’s Facebook page.