Anchorage mayor says leaders are working to combat crime
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says officials and the police department are working hard to combat crime.
"The Anchorage Police Department is addressing the criminal activity that's occurring in this community," he said. "We're working hard to make this a safer community."
Berkowitz said the four deaths from this week are concerning.
"Each one of these homicides represents somebody who's family and who is part of our community," he said. "Each one of them is its own kind of tragedy."
The evening after the triple homicide in Bullion Brothers, Berkowitz said in an Alaska Dispatch News article, "I understand the concern; we've got our work cut out for us," Berkowitz said. "But if you're not engaged in drug trafficking and not out after midnight, it's a very safe city."
However, Wednesday, Berkowitz posted a statement on Facebook apologizing for his remark.
"First, I did not express myself clearly and apologize for an insensitive comment," he said. "To clarify, whether noon or midnight, I and APD work all day every day to keep our city safe and secure. We have brought back and expanded foot patrol, emphasized community policing, and dedicated staff to communicating with residents and neighborhoods. We will continue to work hard to address crime in Anchorage, keeping all Anchorage residents safe at all hours of the day and night. We have grown Anchorage's police force to over 400 officers, demonstrating our tireless commitment to keeping Anchorage safe."
He told KTVA the goal is to have around 450 officers in the Anchorage Police Department. He said the Muni's been able to grow the department from 350 officers to 415 so far.
"I think this upcoming year, we're continuing to look at budgets that grow the department as well as account for attrition," he said.
He said that growing assistance is needed, with the ongoing opioid epidemic contributing to other acts of crime. But Berkowitz stresses with community involvement and help, Anchorage will become a safer community.
"As long as we keep an eye out for one another, we're going to be even better moving into the future," he said.
Berkowitz said anyone living in Anchorage interested in learning more about neighborhood watch groups and trail patrols can contact his office.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz joined KTVA News Extra Wednesday, to discuss the growing concerns over safety in Anchorage.