Juneau Chief of Police Ed Mercer is retiring July 31 after more than 30 years in Southeast Alaska law enforcement, according to an official announcement Friday.
Mercer has served as chief of the Juneau Police Department since 2017, first joining the department in 2000, a press release issued by the City and Borough of Juneau states. He started his police career as a reserve officer in Sitka in 1992, eventually accepting a full-time position with the department there.
During his first four years at JPD he worked in the patrol division and drug enforcement unit, after which he rose through the ranks to patrol sergeant, lieutenant, captain of operations and deputy chief.
Mercer, who is Tlingit and a lifelong Southeast Alaskan born in Sitka, is the first Alaska Native person to lead JPD, according to the release. Among his honors received is the Alaska Federation of Natives’ 2021 Public Service President’s Award for his service to the community.
“There’s not a lot of minorities in law enforcement. I look around and there are a few, but not a lot. I think it says something to young minds and young people to say, ‘You can do this. It is an option.’ I think that is something significant,” Mercer said when he won the award.
Mercer was not immediately available for comment Friday evening.
Among the accomplishments cited by JPD in an official bio of Mercer is continuing an annual National Night Out campaign to build police-community partnerships, reinstating a Citizens Academy program for members of the public to become more familiar with the police departmentand a multi-year effort to get JPD accredited through the Oregon Accreditation Alliance after the State of Alaska’s program was discontinued.
“Chief Mercer is a true public servant,” City Manager Rorie Watt said in a prepared statement. “He has always put the people of Juneau first and worked ceaselessly to build trust between the police department and the community they serve. We will miss him but wish him the very best in the next stage of his life and career.”
Mercer has also had notable off-duty moments, including last October when he rescued three people from a 60-foot fishing vessel that had run aground on Favorite Reef near Juneau while he was out on his own boat.
“I’m happy I was able to help somebody in need of assistance. I grew up in Southeast Alaska, so I know the dangers of being on the water and I just hope that if I’m ever in those types of circumstances that someone would be there to help me, as well, and certainly drop everything to help out,” Mercer said at the time.
Deputy Chief David Campbell, a lifelong Alaskan who has been at JPD since 1995, will serve as interim chief of police, according to the department’s release. The permanent replacement will be selected through an open recruitment process involving participation from the public, the CBJ Assembly and JPD.
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