Police: Cut back traffic, detectives

In coming months, there are likely to be fewer traffic details -- officers posted at a spot on Minnesota to catch speeders, for example, said Chief Mark Mew. And detectives might take longer to investigate some crimes.

The number of police officers dropped from a high of 409 two years earlier to 364 last month, which leaves fewer police officers on each shift, said Mew. About 28 officers are on duty at any given time, he said. That's enough, but means any leaves that are requested must be scheduled carefully, said Mew.

The department lost 18 positions through attrition last year that it is not getting to fill.

"I don't want to erode staffing even more. I want to preserve this number (of officers) and grow it," said Mew.

He is trying to put into play some recommendations from an outside consultant for how to deploy the police force most effectively. That means shoring up patrol ranks by moving some officers from traffic enforcement and cutting back the number of detectives investigating crimes.

He wants to emphasize community policing, where officers stay in the same neighborhoods and burrow more deeply into the life of those neighborhoods.

To get more officers on patrol, Mew is planning to move some officers from the traffic section and cut back on the number of detectives investigating crimes. If you call with a request for police to attend to a traffic problem "maybe you'll wait an extra day." And similarly, the detective division might take longer completing paperwork or returning a victim's phone call. The detectives might investigate a few fewer cases, he said.

Anchorage Daily News / adn.com