Vehicle thefts appear to be trending down as APD starts move downtown

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Anchorage (KTUU) — The Anchorage Police Department has begun moving into the vacant downtown Anchorage Legislative Information Office.

Chief Justin Doll spoke to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon on the state of the police department and public safety across the city, announcing among other things that vehicle theft numbers have been falling in 2018.

Doll said that APD is at the strongest it’s ever been with 425 sworn officers and more on the way, with another class set to graduate from the academy. He said that hiring people to work in dispatch and reducing response times was a focus of improvement for the department.

For vehicle thefts, Doll said the numbers have been trending down across 2018, but are still high compared to previous years.

“Frankly, the department has been pushing really hard against stolen vehicles, we’ve dedicated more detectives to the property crime section, we’ve given them wide latitude to really be engaged in those cases,” Doll said. "We've been working hard on our partnerships with the DA's office and the U.S. Attorney's Office when appropriate."

Doll said there are around six detectives working in the theft section of property crimes who are “very intensely focused in vehicle thefts.”

Those staffing numbers have seen a rise from one or two detectives who had previously been working exclusively in property crimes, Doll said. The numbers of detectives working division-wide is around 60, up from 36 just a few years ago.

Off-duty detectives working on overtime have also been helping in the initial stages of stolen vehicle investigations which Doll said has proven to be very effective.

For violent crimes, Doll said some categories had seen a little less but police were waiting to see how the rest of the year pans out.

Moving downtown
Meanwhile, the department started making the move into its new downtown offices Monday, with a big chunk of the APD expected to be fully moved in by mid-January.

Doll discussed the advantages of having a police presence downtown, saying that detectives would be closer to the courts and the district attorney’s office.

As for the future of the Elmore facility, Doll said the move would allow evidence storage, records and dispatch to spread out. There would still be some patrol units regularly coming in and out of the old APD building.

As for the impact to downtown parking, Doll said that there's an attached parking facility for 110 police vehicles that should serve most of the on-duty parking needs. For visitors, he said there are lots of places to park nearby, including an EasyPark facility with a large capacity.

For the future
Doll spoke about the need to get more people working in police dispatch saying that APD is working on recruitment.

“We regularly have a call station that doesn’t have a body in it,” said Doll.

Nationwide there is a standard of police dispatch answering 911 calls in under 10 seconds. Doll described that for long periods of APD’s history, they had met that mark and were hoping to achieve that again.

Doll said there was a need to see response times drop, but there weren’t specific metrics the department hoped to reach. Instead, depending on the type of call, police would tailor their expectations.

“For an in progress violent crime we want to be there in seconds,” Doll said.

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