The people of Anchorage have paid a high price as the State scaled back its law enforcement, drug and alcohol treatment services, and mental health support, effects that are exacerbated by the opioid epidemic. These effects have been compounded because the police department was dangerously understaffed when I took office.
In the past three years, we have rebuilt the police department from 320 to almost 440 officers (50 of whom are in training). Increased staffing means we now have initiated community policing and foot patrols in Mountain View, Fairview, Spenard and Downtown. It means we have bolstered specialty units that target drugs, robbery, sexual assault and violent crime and dangerous criminals. We only recently reached the staffing levels that allow for a proactive strategy to prevent crime, rather than merely responding to it. We will continue to strengthen the police department so that it can better serve our city.
As Mayor, I have also advanced plans to expand detox and treatment facilities in the Municipality, and created partnerships with state and federal agencies to combat labor and sex trafficking. We are working with community organizations to make sure that we are leveraging the resources available in order to expand our ability to address concerns and achieve results.
As a former prosecutor, and as someone who has worked extensively on criminal justice policy, I know there are no easy answers to make our city safer. I know that it takes a combination of prevention, policing, prosecution and punishment. As a father and husband, and as a neighbor, public safety is a deeply personal issue, and I will do everything I can to make sure that public safety remains Anchorage’s top priority.