Anchorage Police Chief Ken McCoy abruptly announced Tuesday night that he will retire in February.
McCoy did not provide a reason for the retirement, but said in an online statement that it came “after much reflection and thoughtful consideration.” His retirement comes less than a year after he was named acting chief and just months after he was sworn in as chief under Mayor Dave Bronson.
The announcement came as a surprise to the police force and Anchorage Assembly leaders. McCoy’s decision was announced at 6 p.m. in a statement through Nixle, a messaging system used by the department for opt-in notifications via an app or email.
The resignation comes on the tails of another top official in the department stepping down in recent weeks, according to the president of the police union.
McCoy has been with the department for 27 years and is the first Black police chief in its 100-year history.
He stepped into the role of chief temporarily in April of 2020 when former chief Justin Doll retired. He was appointed as police chief in June by Bronson and confirmed to the job by the Anchorage Assembly at the end of July. He served as deputy chief under Doll.
McCoy said when appointed to the role that he aimed to improve community trust in the department. He hoped to expand investigation techniques into non-fatal shootings and prioritize how police handle lower-level drug crimes to better address overall community concerns.
Since he was appointed, McCoy has led the department’s efforts to implement body cameras and craft policy for use. Anchorage voters approved a property tax increase in April that would fund body cameras and a technology overhaul for the department.
“Thank you to the men and women of the Anchorage Police Department for their professionalism and unwavering dedication to service,” McCoy said in the statement. “I could not have achieved success on my own, it’s always been a team effort and I’ve been blessed to work alongside some of the finest professionals in law enforcement. As I close this chapter, I’m overcome with pride for this department and what we’ve accomplished together.”
McCoy will retire Feb. 1, the statement said.
Neither McCoy nor representatives of the mayor’s office could be immediately reached for comment.
The news came as a surprise to police officers, said Sgt. Jeremy Conkling, president of the Anchorage Police Department Employee Association. He learned of McCoy’s resignation through the Nixle alert, he said.
“I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls tonight from officers, obviously, who are sort of wondering what’s going on as well,” he said. “And it’s tough to say — I think at this point it’s just all speculation. ... There wasn’t anything in the email that hinted at the why behind this.”
Deputy Chief Gerard Asselin stepped down from his post to resume his job as a captain in the department during recent weeks, Conkling said. It was not immediately clear what caused the shift, Conklin said.
“I think with Capt. Asselin stepping down from deputy chief last week or the week before and now with Ken retiring — I don’t know. Given the political climate, do I think politics is part of this? Probably. But that’s just my opinion.”
McCoy’s announcement comes after a wave of officials from the Bronson administration have been either fired or left their jobs. Assembly member Chris Constant said McCoy’s announcement was “not expected but understandable.”
“I just know the compromises people are having to make generally to work...for Dave Bronson,” he said by text on Tuesday. “The gate keeping at the highest levels of government and the churn of executive employees points to a systemic problem with the leadership of this administration.”
This month, planning department director Michelle McNulty announced her resignation effective Dec. 8, citing personal reasons. Bronson’s appointed library director, Judy Norton Eledge, resigned in November, although she is staying on as the library’s deputy director.
In October, four other officials resigned, including Craig Campbell, director of policy and programs and Bronson’s former chief of staff. Bob Doehl, director of development services, Dr. John Morris, homelessness coordinator, and Stephanie Williams, boards and commissions director also resigned.
Bronson’s former real estate department director is suing the city for what she says is a wrongful firing, and Anchorage’s former chief equity officer is also suing the city after being fired by Bronson.
Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said Tuesday that McCoy’s departure “is a loss for our community.”
“His integrity, calm demeanor, and skills gained from his service in the military all contributed to his exceptional tenure as the Deputy Chief and Chief of Police,” she said.