Fairview businesses say drugs are bringing more crime
Some people who work in a Fairview neighborhood say they're frustrated by the constant crime and drug dealing. To them, it's a problem which is only getting worse.
Rick Morrison opened an auto dealership near 10th Avenue and Gambell Street, more than 40 years ago. He has since sold the dealership but still owns the property. He said the area used to feel safe, but not anymore.
"My concern is, I wouldn't let my kids or my grandkids walk through here without being escorted," said Morrison. "And, quite frankly, when I drive through, and this is my home, I've been in this place for 40 something years, I'm uncomfortable."
Morrison and others who work in the neighborhood believe drugs are at the root of the problem. Not just the people who sell them from apartments and cars, but the people who flock to the area to buy drugs and use them.
Don Hodgdon owns Eagle Automotive at 11th Avenue and Gambell Street. He said most mornings he finds cars broken into on his lot. Sometimes there are people sleeping inside. Other times there are only the things they've left behind.
"We are finding syringes, we are finding wrappers, we are finding leftover stuff from what they were doing," said Hodgdon. "Then we have to go through it with gloves to make sure one of our customers doesn't get stuck with a needle or any of that."
Hodgdon said he always carries at work. Although none of his encounters with people in the neighborhood have been violent, he said many are so strung-out on drugs he can't be certain what they'll do.
Traci Hartz also works in the neighborhood at Millrock, a company that does mineral exploration across the state. She said drug dealing and other illegal activities are a constant sight from her office window. She said she calls the police but they don't respond fast enough.
"I've lived here my whole life and I've never felt this way," said Hartz. "I never felt this way when I started work here seven years ago, and it just keeps getting worse and worse."
For Morrison, part of the answer is a community that wants to fight back.
"We as a community, will have to decide if we are going to take back our community or if we are going to let crime run our community," said Morrison.
He said Anchorage needs more police officers, dispatchers and people who can respond to non-emergency situations.
"And part of it is you may have to pay some more taxes," he said. "But I'd rather pay more taxes and walk down the street and feel comfortable than have to worry about what's going on around the corner."
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll said he understands the frustration that Morrison and others feel. He said more officers are graduating from the Academy and hitting the streets every day but not in the numbers that Morrison envisions.
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