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October 25, 2017
My Ride Along with the APD
Before heading to Juneau for this special session on crime, I wanted to experience first-hand what it’s like to have boots on the ground in Anchorage’s streets, working to protect the public safety. It is important to learn from our front-line officers who are burdened with the additional responsibility as a result of the recent uptick in crime.
I rode along with Officer Bonnie Charles on the mid-shift, which starts at 3:00 pm and finishes at 1:00 a.m. During this shift, the Anchorage Police Department deploys a minimum of 25 officers, 15 north of Fireweed and 10 south. On that night, Officer Charles was covering midtown Anchorage from Spenard over to the University campus and from Fireweed to International. The amount of hard work put in on the shift was amazing. Contrary to popular belief, there were no coffee, donut, or lunch/dinner breaks.
After attending the shift briefing for all officers and being fitted for a bullet proof vest, we stopped by the light duty mechanic shop to get work done on the vehicle’s radio, where I got a chance to visit with other officers. During the evening, Officer Charles responded to two stolen vehicles, two retail thefts, and one missing child. I was especially impressed by the department’s response to the missing child call, which immediate became priority number one, with multiple officers searching the city until the child was located. I was also impressed that even though officers are not allowed to do a hot (fast) pursuit on stolen vehicles for public safety reasons, the perpetrators couldn’t outrun the radios and they were pulled over and apprehended by other officers in the area. Officer Charles dedicates the end of her shift to paperwork, quoting the police drama End of Watch, “This is the lifeblood of our organization. Paperwork. The way red corpuscles carry oxygen through the body, paperwork carries information through the department.”
It was obvious to me from the beginning that Officer Charles, an armed forces veteran, loves her job. She was very professional, respected members of the public, and very curious and inquisitive when delving into a situation. In the department, she has the reputation of being the first to arrive on a call. After riding along with her, I believe it. Although we were in mid-town, she typically covers the Mountain View area because she enjoys solving problems and helping families in need. Twice during the evening, a vehicle pulled up next to us, rolled down their windows and thanked Officer Charles for her service. She said that happens maybe once a week, but never twice in one day!
During the evening, I listened to the concerns of multiple officers and made note of changes that would help them perform their duties. Some of the things I learned:
I look forward to learning more from our brothers in blue on more ride alongs and working to implement common-sense solutions to improve public safety.
I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!
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