SITKA — Sitka’s police chief has asked borough officials to increase wages and support other changes to improve recruitment and retention of police officers in the southeastern Alaska city.
Sitka Police Chief Jeff Ankerfelt brought the issue before the borough assembly Tuesday, saying his department can hire 16 officers but it’s staffed with 12, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported.
Ankerfelt said his department only has 10 people “capable of performing the duties of a police officer” and two of them are planning to leave later this year.
“Historically, the Sitka Police Department has been a depressing place to work,”Ankerfelt said. The overcrowded police building is a “dump,” and officers feel unappreciated, he said.
The police chief recommended officials increase wages by $5 per hour, compress the wage scale and hire more officers to cut down on overtime and improve retention.
“It’s not a silver bullet but it will help with recruitment and retention in the long term,” Ankerfelt said.
Officer Jayson Christner encouraged the assembly to take steps that will help improve morale.
“The people there care about Sitka. I would encourage you to support them,” Christner said. “Part of that is wages, and part is about morale.”
City administrator Keith Brady said he will form a more comprehensive improvement plan that will call for working with the police union, officers and staff.
• This is an Associated Press report.