Welcome Mark Mew
Monday marked the first day on the job for our new police chief, Mark Mew. He was welcomed and sworn in yesterday in a ceremony that also honored Acting Chief Steve Smith, who served the city admirably and well during his tenure.
Mark has a long history with the department, working there in the 80s and 90s. In 2003, he went to work with the Anchorage School District as director of security and emergency preparedness. We are proud to welcome him back and look forward to his guidance about how to improve an already stellar department of more than 550 employees. Of course, we also welcome his leadership in finding the people responsible for the attempted murder of APD Officer Jason Allen.
The challenges ahead for the city, including APD, are notable. Depending on whether the city’s investments recover to any significant degree, we will have to trim the city budget by an additional $15-20 million in 2011. This is difficult under any circumstance, but especially once you’ve already gone through revenue reductions and trimmed the “easy” budget items.
Chief Mew and, indeed, all of the city’s leadership, will have to be innovative in finding ways to meet the public’s needs under a budget adjusting to the demands of costly labor contracts. That’s why I plan to support our APD with a deployment audit that takes a closer look at how our officers and other public safety resources are utilized. Because Mew is new to his leadership role, and because he will undoubtedly need time to assess the department and how it is organized, this audit should provide helpful suggestions for how to make our department more efficient.
On the table for discussion is the concept of community policing. The term is used to describe an approach to put police closer to the people in the city's neighborhoods and, ideally, make that relationship work to reduce crime. Violent crime rates have risen dramatically during the last six years, despite hiring almost 90 additional police officers in the same time period. This is not to say that our officers aren’t doing their jobs; quite the opposite. I believe community policing would allow our officers to do their jobs better. We have an incredibly talented, well-trained police force; we just may need to deploy it differently.
I’m pleased to welcome Chief Mew and wish him the best as he works to make our police department even better.