APD foot patrol making a difference in downtown Anchorage
In November, the Anchorage Police Department foot patrol downtown will celebrate three years of walking the streets in an effort to make the heart of the city more welcoming.
"I think a lot of people wanted to come down here and feel safe and they weren't feeling that when they came down here," Officer Jacquelyn Valencia said. "This is the central hub for Anchorage. People come down here and go to restaurants, go shopping. So, when they come down here, they were starting to feel like they weren't seeing us."
Valencia says there is a big difference between patrolling in a car and patrolling on foot.
"Being on foot, you see more of us, you can interact with us more," she said. "You're okay with coming up and talking to us."
Valencia and her partner officer Mindy Mitchell have been on the beat since it started.
"We've gotten a lot of good positive feedback from the local business owners as well," Mitchell said. "They love to see us. They feel it's made a big difference in the decrease of thefts that are going on in their shops as well."
Valencia and Mitchell work 10-hour shifts that start in the morning. Their first priority is a walk to the visitor center, then through the parks to make sure no one is sleeping on the benches.
"So, these parks don't need to be full with people sleeping, their trash," Valencia said. "If I was bringing my kid down here I wouldn't want them to have to see that."
Both officers wear 25 pounds of gear. They typically walk the blocks from Third Avenue to Sixth Avenue between L Street and Cordova Street.
"The community can come and see us, talk to us," Valencia said. "It doesn't have to be reporting a crime."
The officers say they walk around 10–15 miles a day during their shift, but they say it's all worth it because they're making a difference.
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