APD still working to get 4 officers on patrol full-time in Chugiak-Eagle River
Staffing levels are preventing the Anchorage Police Department from keeping four full-time officers on patrol in Chugiak-Eagle River, but according to the officers who walk the beat the department is doing a better job of keeping familiar faces in the area.
At any given time, either three or four officers are working the Chugiak-Eagle River area, according to officers Jared Rogers and Joseph Giammalva, who visited the Eagle River Valley Community Council last week to give an update on the department’s crime-fighting efforts. That’s slightly below the level the department would like to staff in the area, but Rogers said APD has made progress on its effort to keep the same officers working in Chugiak-Eagle River.
“There are assigned officers you should see regularly,” he told the council during its Oct. 9 meeting at Ravenwood Elementary.
The officers said their work typically entails patrolling the busy Glenn Highway corridor, responding to calls for service and — when there’s time — checking up on residential neighborhoods.
“I do that on a pretty regular basis,” Rogers said.
Rogers said the officers working Chugiak-Eagle River are dedicated to the municipality’s northern communities.
“We’re not going into [Anchorage] to take calls,” he said.
However, although four officers are slotted to patrol the area at all times, Rogers and Giammalva said that’s not always possible.
“It’s entirely staffing,” Gimmalva said.
In 2018, the department stated four officers would be assigned to each shift in Chugiak-Eagle River.
“For more than 30 years, 3 officers have been assigned to Eagle River; for the first time, there will be 4 officers with the Patrol Division for each shift,” the department said in a statement about staffing increases.
However, Officers Rogers and Giammalva said more public support is needed to further increase the department’s size so that it’s large enough to keep four officers on patrol at all times in Chugiak-Eagle River.
“Please keep pushing for more officers and more academies,” Giammalva urged the council.
A 2016 study found the department’s ideal staffing level would be 446 officers. According to APD spokeswoman Kendra Doshier, the department currently has 428 sworn officers, with two police academies planned for 2020.
Doshier said it’s not uncommon for staffing numbers to go up and down depending on circumstances.
“APD remains committed to having 4 officers assigned to patrolling Eagle River,” she wrote. “The patrol division supervisors retain the flexibility to adjust staffing on a day to day basis based on real world conditions all over Anchorage. As a result, it is normal to see staffing levels fluctuate both up and down depending on events in our city.”
According to the department’s online crime mapping system, Chugiak-Eagle River typically has less crime than other parts of the Municipality. For example, of the 377 assault reports mapped by the department in September, just 11 came from Chugiak-Eagle River; out of muni’s 116 reported motor vehicle thefts, five were reported in Chugiak-Eagle River.
However, Eagle River Community Patrol founder Cliff Cook said crime does occur regularly, and told the council it’s important for the public to let APD know about issues so the area is given higher priority.
“No matter how small, please report them,” he said.