The Anchorage Police Department has formed a unit of officers to work on cold cases with the intent of solving unresolved investigations involving up to 125 victims.
The unit established earlier this year has spent months combing through files of cold cases, which receive the designation after three years without leads or productive avenues to pursue, Alaska’s News Source reported Tuesday.
Lt. Jack Carson said the unit he now commands is the first to which the department has dedicated full-time resources for cold cases.
The unit has two detectives and a shared clerk, with Carson and Sgt. Bianca Cross supervising their activities.
Carson oversees the homicide and robbery and assault divisions, with Cross providing oversight for the homicide division.
DNA technology, the quality of old evidence and the cooperation of witnesses with investigators will help determine if the unit can bring homicide, sexual assault and missing persons cases to their conclusion.
“Years ago we were collecting things that we didn’t realize were going to be so significant today, and so we go back and look at those and see how we can make that work for us,” Cross said.
Some families of crime victims have expressed frustration over what they perceived as exclusion by law enforcement, saying they were often unsure about the status of cases.
Carson said he understands the perspectives of those families. But police limit the amount of information released “because on a lot of these cases the only other person that knows that information is the actual murderer himself or the actual person that committed the crime,” he said.
“I know that there are a lot of families hoping that their cases are getting looked at right now, and I can tell you we are going to look at every one of them,” Carson said.
The unit’s first year was spent for organization and determining which cases should be pursued.
The investigators have not yet solved any cold cases, but Carson said that will remain the goal as the unit develops.
“Our number one focus is bringing justice for the victim and the family,” Carson said.