Anchorage’s Mayor-elect Dave Bronson announced the new chiefs of the city’s police and fire departments at a press conference on June 8, and he chose two experienced candidates.
The most anticipated new pick for Chief of Police went to Kenneth McCoy, who was already serving as acting Chief of Police. McCoy is the first African American to lead the department. He grew up in Anchorage, graduating from Bartlett High School and later the University of Alaska Anchorage.
McCoy said he’d try to hire a more diverse team of officers to the police force, which is disproportionately white, according to data released in the summer. About 5% of sworn officers on APD are Hispanic or Latino, while 9% of Anchorage’s population is. “It’s still a priority for us. We would like to have the department be more reflective of the community. But we’re going to need the community’s help,” he said.
Bronson echoed McCoy’s sentiment, but added that “if it’s not broken, we’re not going to fix it.” Bronson said he wouldn’t micromanage the police or other public safety departments. “The chief will run this department as he sees fit. And he will hire who he thinks is best, and they will be the best when he’s done with it,” he said.
As Chief of Police, McCoy will oversee a department of 600 employees, including 426 officers, and police academy recruits. McCoy didn’t give details of new programs or initiatives that would start under the new administration, but he said he would have more information later on. “I’m going to reaffirm that I’m committed to trust and transparency. And we will be unveiling some new crime strategies, but that’s to come after I’m sworn in,” he said. Bronson also named Doug Schrage as fire chief. Schrage will oversee fire and emergency medical responses in the city, as well as a recently created mobile mental health crisis response team.
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