Wielechowski says the shooting of Officer Jean Mills earlier this month sent shock waves across Anchorage, and lawmakers are turning to the public to find solutions.
It also led to the creation of a five-point-plan by Wielechowski and Petersen to address the short-term problems. The plan includes putting more officers on the streets, proposing a second officer in patrol cars, providing better equipment, immediately funding the 2011 police academy, and bringing APD's Zero Tolerance Detail back to high-crime areas.
Mew says it all comes down to money.
"Right now, I think we're in pretty good shape," Mew said. "As our numbers shrink we will, of course, save money for Anchorage and help meet budget expectations, but at some point we will not be in as good shape as we are in today."
The last police academy was held in May 2009, and because of budget constraints the next one won't happen until late 2011. Mew says the city is exploring different scenarios for the academy.
"Everybody wants to get to the same place – I think some of the Assembly members would like us to get here earlier," Mew said.
A lot of those goals hinge on funding, however. Honeman suggests using state resources to assist APD, so that all the money won't come from municipal taxpayers.
"Quite frankly, the state troopers and the Department of Public Safety are responsible for a good response in the rest of the state -- that doesn't mean that they can't support Anchorage and the Anchorage Police Department on other areas. Commonly we see those in the area of task forces." Honeman said.
But Mew says APD's average patrol shift is as strong as it's ever been. He adds the department is doing a staffing study, based on the city's crime trends, to see what staffing levels are needed to keep Anchorage safe.
Contact Christine Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org