COMMUNITY COP: Eagle River officer works to forge close ties with her hometown
Angie Fraize is in the spotlight after a U.S. Senator sang her praises in a glowing speech earlier this month.
“The Senate floor, how cool is that?” said the Anchorage Police Department officer from Eagle River.
The mother of two and 12-year veteran of the force has been in the public eye a lot lately thanks to her volunteer efforts ranging from her work with the special needs community to her push to bring police officers closer to the people who live in their neighborhoods. She’s also been recognized by the Alaska Journal of Commerce as a “Top Forty under 40” recipient. Her most recent honor came May 17, when U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) recognized Fraize as his “Alaskan of the Week.”
In his speech, Sullivan said Fraize overcame a tough upbringing in the Butte to become one of the department’s most visible and highly regarded officers.
“She did not have an easy childhood,” Sullivan said. “She grew up in a house with no running water and no electricity. Her father was an alcoholic who died in a motorcycle accident when she was just 12 years old, so her mom raised her and her brother by herself.”
Fraize’s mother put herself through college at UAA, and Fraize herself went to the University of Washington at the age of 16. Fraize decided to become a police officer in part because she’s been driven to help others since she was young.
“I have just never felt really comfortable having a lot and not giving back,” she said. “I’m always sitting on the couch thinking, ‘What can I be doing to help those that don’t have what I do?’”
Fraize and her husband, Matt (a former UW football player), are both police officers and both are highly visible in the community everywhere from the Special Olympics Torch Run down to participating in Trunk or Treat events in their hometown of Eagle River. Angie Fraize is president of the board of directors for Eagle River nonprofit FOCUS Inc. and also chairs the Anchorage Cops for Community nonprofit, which organizes events like “Coffee with a Cop” to bring officers and community members closer together.
The Fraizes have two daughters, Italia, 14, and Gianna, 10. Their youngest daughter has Down syndrome and Fraize said helping people with special needs is particularly close to the couple’s hearts. Earlier this month Angie Fraize returned the Special Olympics torch to Anchorage after being selected as one of 50 officers to carry the torch at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
APD chief Justin Doll said he couldn’t be more proud of Fraize.
“She is the epitome of the public servant ideal that is the foundation of our relationship with the Anchorage community,” Doll said in remarks delivered by Sen. Sullivan in his speech. “I am genuinely honored to have her at APD upholding our most cherished traditions of community service.”
Fraize said she’s not shy about being a visible presence in the community, a view that wasn’t always shared by law enforcement, she said. When Fraize attended her first law enforcement academy in 2001, she said officers were very careful about protecting their identities. But that’s a view that is changing, she said, and now more officers are working to be visible parts of the communities they police in an effort to “humanize” the men and women of the department.
“We’ve absolutely decided to say, ‘You know, we need to write our own narrative because we have great cops,’” she said.
Fraize has been a beat cop, a coordinator at the police academy and now works primarily in recruiting and doing background checks. The fact she’s mostly working behind the scenes does make her a bit shy when it comes to getting praise for her volunteer work, she said.
“I’m not even doing ‘real’ police work anymore,” she joked.
Whether it’s having coffee with locals or helping run community fun runs, Fraize said she and her husband will continue to be front and center in Chugiak-Eagle River because they believe in the notion of officers being a part of the community they police.
“It’s okay for the community to know that your kids go to school with their kids and you’re a mom and you’re a dad and not just a police officer,” she said.
At the end of the day, she said officers are just like anyone else and want to be appreciated by those they serve.
“Their boss is the community and they want to do a good job for their boss,” she said.
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274.