Acting Anchorage Police Chief Ken McCoy said Monday he hopes to build trust between the community and police department at a time when national attention has focused on police reform.
McCoy officially stepped into the leadership position Monday as the first Black chief in the Anchorage Police Department’s 100-year history. Former chief Justin Doll will use accrued leave during the next few months before officially retiring in June.
The next police chief will be appointed by the incoming mayor, who will be elected in a May runoff between candidates Dave Bronson and Forrest Dunbar. McCoy said Monday he hopes to be appointed to the position permanently, a move that the outgoing police chief said he supports.
In a brief interview with the Daily News, McCoy said the appointment is an honor and he hopes to help the community build trust in the department.
This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Anchorage Daily News: What does it mean to you to be the first Black police chief in Anchorage?
McCoy: It’s an extremely humbling honor for me to be asked to step into this role and it means an incredible amount to me and my family to be the first African American chief. But more importantly, I think it means a great deal to our community and specifically to members of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) community who are looking for a moment of healing. And I think me stepping into this role is a sign that we have an opportunity -- an opportunity to come together and work toward some progress.
ADN: What are your priorities and goals during your time as chief, whether that means just the next few months or a longer appointment?
McCoy: My No. 1 priority is building trust and legitimacy with the community. We have a great police department and we have such a great community with tremendous support of our department, and that is not something we take for granted.
I recognize that there are communities of color -- as I mentioned, our BIPOC community -- there are people who are hurting and who have experienced pain over the last number of years, but especially over the last year, with all the events that have taken place across the country involving the police. There is a lot of pain right now and that’s been expressed to me. I’m really looking to help the healing process begin and to really work with those communities so they can feel good about their police department and establish that trust.
Our body-worn cameras are a prime example of how technology at the department can help establish more trust and accountability. We’re going to be really looking at the policies and procedures that will govern that technology. Another thing we’re looking at is our training curriculum, not just for the officers in the academy, but for our entire staff -- training on diversity, cultural awareness and implicit bias. Really looking at our whole training curriculum and turning it upside down and revamping it. We hope to do that in conjunction with the community and various groups to make that a meaningful training opportunity, where we can learn and hear shared experiences and just really move again that needle of trust forward.
ADN: What are the department’s next steps for building body camera policy?
McCoy: Right now, we’re reviewing model policies and we’re speaking to different groups. We intend to put together a best-practice draft policy and take that policy to the Public Safety Advisory Commission, then to the Assembly Public Safety Commission. We’ll take any recommendations that may come from those meetings and really refine that policy to where it’s something that best fits our community. And then we intend to have a public session where we present this policy and take testimony and input from the public and put the final touches on it.
At the end, we hope to have a policy that’s going to instill trust and accountability and meet the needs of our community.