Anchorage mayor says police recruitment a priority

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is making good on a campaign promise to improve public safety, partially through police recruitment.

Berkowitz said Wednesday that he hopes to grow the Anchorage Police Department from 340 officers to 365 by the end of 2016, with a goal of 400 officers in the future, KTVA-TV reported.

“One of the foundational things that government has to do for its people is provide for public safety,” said Berkowitz. “We have a ways to go to get to the kind of standards that I want.”

In order to help this effort, a third police academy will start next year.

“We’re doing a much more aggressive outreach to communities around Anchorage,” said Berkowitz. “I think that’s going to yield results. It’s just going to require a much more significant effort than we’ve undertaken in the past.”

The public safety budget will increase by $5 million to accommodate the change. Berkowitz said funding will come from restructuring the municipal budget and increasing fines for things like speeding tickets and parking violations.

He said fines for minor violations have not kept pace with inflation. Most prices haven’t been adjusted since 2001.

The Anchorage Fire Department is also recruiting. They hope to add 10 firefighters next year.

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