A new nonprofit group created Thursday aims to improve ties between Anchorage police and the community, by hosting more events at which residents can meet the officers who serve them.
Anchorage Cops for Community, or AC4C, announced its formation at Anchorage Police Department headquarters. The group, established as a 501(c)(3) corporation, backed by the department, the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association and various members of the community.
"AC4C was established to facilitate police-supported community programs and events," organizers wrote in a statement. "Anchorage Cops for Community strives to foster and inspire community well-being through collaboration between the community and law enforcement."
APD Officer Angelina Fraize, also the chair of AC4C's board of directors, said Thursday the group will gradually expand its schedule of events. It will begin by handling a number of existing ones, like Coffee with a Cop meetings where citizens can speak with officers and Operation Warm fundraiser auctions.
"Right now, we're going to be taking on all the events that APDEA has been working on," Fraize said.
A catalyst for AC4C's formation came late last year, when Fraize said APDEA was considering preparations for Police Navidad, an annual Christmas-themed event at which officers get to interact with families in a casual setting. Instead, Fraize said, the association didn't hold Police Navidad in favor of hosting more community events during 2017.
"We were planning on Police Navidad, and we didn't want to put our eggs in one basket," Fraize said.
Although there aren't any immediate plans to resurrect the holiday event, Fraize said signs from previous years are still on hand and it "is not necessarily gone 100 percent forever."
Another reason for establishing AC4C is its structure as a 501(c)(3). The nonprofit status allows the group to accept police-related donations from locals.
APD has received widespread offerings of support when officers have come under fire, most recently in November when Officer Arn Salao was shot and wounded by James Dale Ritchie. Responding officers shot and killed Ritchie soon after the downtown encounter, and his revolver was linked to five local homicides in 2016.
"The community can't give to APD," Fraize said. "We have heard back that people want to give."
AC4C's next sponsored event, Coffee with a Cop, is set for 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the downtown Kaladi Brothers Coffee in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts at 621 W. Sixth Ave.