Police say an early summer assault in Mountain View opened their eyes to increasing gang violence and focused their attention on stopping it.
Video surveillance taken from a Holiday Stationstore on Mountain View Drive back in June shows a group of teenagers brutally attacking a man wearing a red hat.
Anchorage Police Department Chief Rob Huen said the aggressors are suspected gang members.
"We sat with all the players from our team for those who are responsible for gang intelligence and gang suppression," Huen said. "We came up with plans most of which involved increased presence, increased data gathering and we used our Special Assignment Unit to execute a lot of arrests."
The department is using multiple tactics in combating street and youth gangs, including: the Special Assignment Unit, which focuses on gangs and has arrested more than 300 people over the past two years.
Police officials also note that more than 200 people have been charged with felonies and almost 100 guns seized.
The numbers sound promising but Huen acknowledges that gangs continue to threaten the community.
"The gang situation at this point is constant; however, we believe with our presence we've been able to keep it to a certain level of control," Huen said.
Anchorage Assemblyman Matt Claman, who represents West Anchorage, seems to think it's a worthy investment.
"I have folks say they're worried about driving the streets at night. There's a lot of gangs out there," Claman said. "I think its going to continue to be an issue for a long time, but we're making progress."
Assemblyman Dan Sullivan said he hasn't had a chance to hear APD's full report. But Claman said the issue has been raised that the department spends a lot on overtime and that not all of its current positions filled.
Police presented their work to an Assembly work session Wednesday night and pleaded with city government for more money to address the problem.
Mayor Mark Begich's proposed budget calls for increasing the police force by 20 new recruits next year. Those positions will represent just part of an APD budget increase of nearly $5.5 million.
Police say that progress will ultimately be measured on the streets of Anchorage and not in study groups.
About $3.6 million of next year's proposed budget for APD will go toward salaries and contracts, while the remaining amount will cover the new officers and recruits.
Contact Rebecca Palsha at firstname.lastname@example.org