APD Chief says city is heading in the right direction
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll said he thinks Anchorage may be slowly turning the corner on crime.
On Wednesday, Chief Doll sat down with KTVA reporter Lauren Maxwell for a one-on-one interview about where he believes Anchorage crime rates are headed and why. Some of the responses have been edited for clarity.
Maxwell: Do you think it is accurate to say our city is turning a corner on crime?
Chief Doll: People are still concerned, and I think rightfully so, about a lot of the issues we are facing. But, I do feel there has been a little bit of a shift. And I hope we can build on that and generate some momentum there.
Maxwell: When you talk about a shift, what do you attribute that to?
Chief Doll: I think that it's a number of things. I think that having more police officers helps, there's more people to do the work which means more work gets done. Having consistent pressure across the board on criminal activity. It's not something where you can say 'we are just going to address vehicle theft' or 'we are just going to address retail theft or some property crime or just a violent crime category.' You can't push in just one area because everything else will flow around you. You have to push back all across the board. I think that's what we are doing and I think that's why we are starting to feel like maybe there's some impact.
Maxwell: It seems like crimes are happening just as frequently, if not more so. However, it also seems like the police are doing a better job, with more staffing, of finding people, making arrests, basically solving crimes. Would you say that's accurate?
Chief Doll: So, if you look at stolen vehicle data over the last two years, you see a big rise. But for most of this year, I think we've been holding fairly steady. It's obviously higher than what I would like to see, but when I look at it, what I see is that the number of arrests have started to come up, too. And that tells me that we are starting to have an effect. I think that will make a difference over the long run.
Maxwell: What are some of the things the department has done in terms of beefing up staffing to target certain areas of crime?
Chief Doll: Well, obviously, patrol is bigger, and that's critical because that's the first thing that everybody sees. It's the first thing that residents see. It's also the first thing that people participating in criminal activity see. And so I've been really focusing on maintaining that. But we also have been adding to some other places. We added to robbery/assault, the detective unit that investigates a lot of our violent crime. We've added to homicide, obviously, we had a lot of homicides in the last couple of years, so we wanted to make sure we had capacity there and all those cases get addressed appropriately. We've just added four detectives to property crimes. The property crimes unit went almost to zero a few years ago when the department was cutting back, and I think that for whatever reason that happened, I think we've all felt that wasn't a great idea.
Maxwell: I know when SB91 came about, there was a lot of criticism from law enforcement worried it was going to tie their hands, it was going to frustrate the public. To some extent, it did do those things. What is your sense of what still needs to be done?
Chief Doll: It's the post-law enforcement part of the criminal justice system that's critical, and I think that was the missing part of the initial implementation of SB91. There was a lot of change made but there was nothing that was added to that post-law enforcement contact. Whether that's an effective treatment program or incarceration or some combination of the two. Otherwise, you have law enforcement contact and then you are right back out into society and probably nothing about your behavior has changed. So, I think that's the piece that needs to be beefed up. We need to have some focus on that. If you want to know what can be done to help law enforcement and our public safety role, it's making sure that [part] exists.
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