Anchorage police start full-time patrols on Seward Highway
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Police Department has announced it will immediately begin full-time patrols along the Seward Highway.
Alaska State Troopers had patrolled the highway until last summer, when the department closed its Girdwood post citing state budget cuts. Anchorage police began limited patrols along the highway last October, which had been paid for by a one-time $200,000 legislative grant.
The police department on Wednesday said the patrols will now be permanent, KTUU-TV reported .
Police Chief Justin Doll said the department is looking to maintain order on the highway.
“But it also means that we’ll be responding to crashes and providing other police services like we would in any other part of the city,” Doll said.
The Anchorage Assembly has since passed a tax ordinance making about $4 million available annually for the patrols.
Under the ordinance, residents outside the Anchorage metropolitan police service area pay an added property tax of about $11.22 per $100,000 of assessed home value.
Residents inside the Anchorage Metropolitan Police Service Area will see a slight reduction to the mill rate.
“This new sort of highway enforcement area is really an area-wide function that the assembly created for the police department,” Doll said. “It’s something that is supported by the entire city, by taxpayers everywhere in the city.”
Turnagaim Arm voters also narrowly approved another tax hike during last year’s municipal election to fund the new Turnagain Arm Police Service Area, which allows Anchorage police to respond to 911 calls from within those communities.
Doll said the new highway patrols could help with calls in that area as well.
“Already being present on the highway would mean that our response time could be shorter for them,” he said.
Unspent money left over from the legislative grant will be used to pay for extra enforcement on heavy traffic periods like Memorial Day weekend, the department said.
The department also announced that it will be increasing its presence in Eagle River by one additional officer, bringing the total number of officers in that community to four per shift.
“That patrol footprint is just going to get denser and denser, you’re going to see more and more officers out on the road, more officers patrolling neighborhoods and parks and trails and all the things the community’s been asking us for,” Doll said.
Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com