Anchorage DUIs and sexual assault numbers climb, overall crime levels similar to last year

The Anchorage Police Department.
The Anchorage Police Department.
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:40 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Calls for sexual assault and cases of driving under the influence are up compared to last year, according to data from the Anchorage Police Department. At the same time, crime levels lessened in other categories, but overall numbers of combined violent and property crimes remain similar to that of 2020.

The data details the time period between April 1 through June 30, and shows levels of various calls for service for crimes during the second quarter of the last four calendar years, 2018-2021. Deputy Police Chief for Administration Michael Kerle shared the numbers and his theories behind the spike from the second quarter of last year to present day at the Anchorage Assembly Public Safety Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday morning.

“Usually sexual assault includes — the victims are usually isolated,” he said. “What we think now that everything is opened up, there are greater opportunities for the victims to report because they are not confined as much as they were before ... they’re not isolated with the abusers so they have the ability to actually go out there and make the report. Whereas when everything was locked down, we think that might have been a contributing factor. But they did not have the ability to report the crime.”

The data from the police department shows that 179 sexual assault calls have been recorded in the second quarter of this year. That number exactly mirrors the same amount in the same quarter as 2019. In 2020, that number had dipped to 143 sexual assault calls.

Data compiled by the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault last year showed that, during 2020, there were more calls made regarding domestic or sexual violence, but fewer reports made in person and instances of people reaching out for services directly.

When it comes to DUIs, the data from the department shows they increased from 362 during the second quarter of 2020 to 422 in the second quarter of this year.

Kerle also said staffing numbers are in an expected place with 20 to 40 retirements occurring on average per year. The department’s June academy was at 100% and that full capacity is on track for the December academy as well, although the program is down 21 officers as of present day.

Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance inquired about recruitment and rebuilding efforts that have taken place in recent years, including a program that looks to hire from the Lower 48. Kerle added that the policing profession continues to be of interest although it is not as high as years past. He also declined to make any further comment regarding the status of body cameras and their potential use in the Anchorage Police Department.

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