Anchorage

Anchorage police chief to take position at Providence Alaska

Ken McCoy, Kenneth McCoy, anchorage police, apd, police

Anchorage Police Chief Kenneth McCoy, who is set to retire Feb. 1 after less than a year on the job, will become Providence Alaska’s first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, the health care organization said Wednesday.

McCoy will begin in the new position on Feb. 14 and will be responsible for promoting “culturally competent, patient-centered care” and diversity and inclusion within the organization’s workforce, a written statement from Providence said Wednesday. He will also focus on community relationships and efforts to “integrate diversity and inclusion with health initiatives that advance health status, access and awareness in the community.”

“Ken brings to this role a track record of forward-thinking leadership with a gift for discovering and molding talent and motivating inclusive, equitable teams,” said Preston Simmons, chief executive officer of Providence Alaska.

Providence Alaska runs the state’s largest hospital in Anchorage, along with hospitals in Seward, Kodiak and Valdez and other health care facilities in the region.

“After serving the public for nearly three decades, it was important for me to continue to make an impact in our community,” McCoy said in a statement Wednesday. “Joining Providence allows me to continue my work guiding teams and organizations with diplomacy, dignity and fairness.”

McCoy has spent more than 27 years working in the Anchorage Police Department as a police officer and supervisor, eventually becoming the first Black chief of police in the department’s 100-year history. McCoy temporarily took on the role in April 2020 when former Chief Justin Doll retired. He was then appointed police chief in June by Mayor Dave Bronson and later confirmed by the Anchorage Assembly.

But McCoy abruptly announced his retirement in November after just a few months as chief. At the time, he did not say why he is leaving the department. The announcement came as a shock to many, surprising the police force, Assembly members and leaders in communities of color who called his departure a loss for the entire city.

In response to a request for an interview Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the police department said that McCoy “respectfully declines.”

Bronson, in a statement Wednesday, said he is happy for McCoy’s new opportunity at Providence Alaska.

“I am appreciative of the work and service Chief Ken McCoy has done for the Municipality of Anchorage, not only during my administration, but during his 27 years in law enforcement in this city,” adding that through his work with the police department and other organizations, “he has shown a commitment to making Anchorage a safer place for everyone who lives here.”

Bronson last fall attacked hospitals — including Providence — for requiring vaccines among employees, as hospitals struggled with staffing shortages and record numbers of COVID-19 patients during a surge that led to the state activating crisis standards of care for hospitals statewide.

There remain lingering questions about the reasons behind McCoy’s retirement, and so far, McCoy has not agreed to interviews or answered questions about his retirement announcement, which followed the departures of several other Bronson administration officials who were either fired or left their positions.

Anchorage Assembly leaders last month launched an inquiry into allegations outlined in an article published by the Alaska Landmine that said McCoy is retiring due to “improper demands” made by the Bronson administration.

One claim in the article describes the mayor’s administration attempting to order McCoy to instruct police officers to leave the Assembly chambers during a chaotic Oct. 7 meeting on a proposed mask ordinance. The article also asserts that Bronson ordered McCoy to send officers into a local medical facility to “rescue” a man sick with COVID-19 or to force medical workers to treat him with ivermectin.

The mayor’s office has denied those allegations and McCoy has not publicly commented on them.

During a Public Safety Committee meeting last week, Assembly member Jamie Allard asked McCoy to comment on his reasons for leaving.

“There seems to be a bit of misinformation out in the public on maybe why you’re retiring. And I was wondering if you could address that for the public?” she said.

McCoy declined, saying, “I won’t be addressing that at this time. I’ll be making an announcement here in the near future, but for now I’ve been blessed to serve the city. And I’m looking forward to new opportunities. So thank you.”

Assembly member and former Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, who appointed McCoy to be acting police chief, called the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer the “perfect role” for him.

“Ken has many good qualities, but his care for others and ability to work with all types of Alaskans sets him apart,” Quinn-Davidson said. “Providence Alaska shares his values of generosity, kindness, and sincere care for our community, and the many diverse populations within it.”

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

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