ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – It’s been just over a month since the Anchorage Police Department added one additional officer to the Eagle River/Chugiak patrol shift. One of the community’s longtime police officers says the extra set of hands has already made a huge difference.
“We’re working such a big geographic area that even if you only have a handful of calls in a shift, we’re so spread out it can take hours and hours,” said senior patrol officer Matthew Fraize, who’s been living and working in the Eagle River area for years.
Until March of this year, the area had been patrolled by just three officers for about 30 years. Since then, APD says the population has increased significantly, and crime rates have gone up as well.
Officer Fraize says the expanded patrol shift makes it easier to keep at least one officer in service while the others are busy. That’s particularly important when they receive dangerous high priority calls that require more than one responding officer. It also helps when one or two Eagle River officers have to make trips into Anchorage during their shift.
“When we had three out here, if one of us made an arrest or we had to bring somebody into Anchorage, being down to two officers really limited us,” Fraize explained. “Now, even if we lost two officers to go into town, it still leaves us with two officers to respond to priority calls out here without burdening the officers in East Anchorage and Downtown.”
It’s a change that many residents feel is long overdue, including Chugiak- Eagle River assemblywoman Amy Demboski.
“For the people of Chugiak and Eagle River it was crucial,” Demboski said. “It’s been something that many of our assembly members for years and years have advocated for, I’ve pushed for it for a long time.”