Chief McCoy says Anchorage police will spend more time investigating lower-level crimes

The directive is based on feedback McCoy said he’s received from community members.
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 9:39 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Under the leadership of newly sworn in Anchorage Police Chief Ken McCoy, Anchorage police officers will spend more time investigating lower-level drug offenses and crimes of public disorder.

“We’re talking about the vandalisms, the trespassing, the brazen shoplifting where people are just going in the stores loading up carts and walking right out the door,” McCoy said during an interview Friday. “So those quality of life issues impact neighborhoods, impact people, and we want to put some focus there and give that some attention.”

When asked why the department has not addressed these types of crimes in this way in the past, McCoy said it likely has to do with whether defendants will be held accountable later on. The penalties for lower-level offenses are often citations, fines and little to no jail time.

“On that end of the spectrum, we know there’s more that can be done,” he said. “But in the meantime, we’re going to continue to do our part, and our part is to investigate and apprehend the people who are committing those crimes, and I’m going to make a real effort in taking the lead and working with our partners at different levels to see if we can enhance the ability to hold those offenders accountable down the line, but we’re going to do our part to address it where we can right now.”

The department did not provide specific data or research showing the approach will be effective at curbing crime. McCoy said the decision is based on feedback he’s received from community members.

“The concept is those smaller problems lead to bigger problems,” McCoy said. “And if we ignore the small problems, what message are we sending? We’re sending the message that you will not be held accountable for your actions. And so those smaller problems manifest in developing the bigger problem.”

McCoy shared a brief version of his vision for APD during a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, identifying human trafficking as another area he wants to see officers working to address.

“In addition to my commitment to keeping the city safe, I promise a culture of transparency and accountability,” he said.

McCoy is expected to release a more detailed crime plan in the future.

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