APDEA: Larger staff necessary to proactively deal with violence in city
Hours after an Anchorage police officer was shot in an 'ambush' attack Saturday morning, messages of support and reactions poured in from members of the community and from officials.
Sgt. Gerard Asselin, President of the Anchorage Police Department Employee's Association, attributes the higher number of violent crimes in the city to a lack of staffing, among other issues.
APD had a force of 425 sworn officers in 2009 which fell by about 25 percent in 2012-13, Asselin said. Since then, the police force has been growing, but is not at the numbers it used to have.
The current administration is supportive of giving the police force what it needs, Asselin said. "That is an absolutely necessary component for us to be able to proactively deal with these situations."
He went on to iterate that criminals have been relatively left unchecked. "We've turned into an entirely responsive police department with very little proactive work," he said.
Police Chief Chris Tolley also stressed the importance of more staffing at the Anchorage Police Department. "It is so critical that we get to the staffing levels that make the streets as safe as possible because ultimately that is the goal is to make the streets as safe as possible and the citizens in Anchorage safe," he said.
At a press conference Saturday morning, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz thanked the officers involved in the Saturday morning shooting for their response. "In my conversations with officers subsequently, i am heartened by the camaraderie that exists," Berkowitz said. "I'm also very grateful that we have a tremendous outpouring of community support and interest here for the officer and efforts to make Anchorage a much safer community."
Community members took to social media, posting messages of support and thanks to the Anchorage Police Department. Many expressed anger at the growing violence in the city.