“But if you’re not engaged in drug trafficking and not out after midnight, it’s a very safe city” – Mayor Ethan Berkowitz
And thus, the mayor of Anchorage set a suggested curfew for his citizens: Just don’t go out after midnight, he advised. It was not a comment taken out of context.
It was, however, just the kind of thing this mayor tends to say, like the time he was asked about North Korea’s aggression and he said he was more concerned about moose and bears than North Korean missiles.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is just flippant like that and his supporters cut him a lot of slack. This time, though, he hit a raw nerve. Even diehard Democrats don’t like being robbed, hijacked, or murdered.
Berkowitz took to Facebook today to walk back his statement that it’s a very safe city if you’re not out after midnight.
One woman’s response on Facebook was echoed throughout social media:
NOT acceptable! My city is NOT safe! I get up regularly through the day (and night) to check to see if my vehicles have been stolen. I can’t go shopping to multiple areas in town in one stop because you can’t leave packages in your car. We MUST do something to take our city back. I am willing to put in the work to make it happen – ideas?
The mayor was contrite, once the furor had grown to a roar:
“First, I did not express myself clearly and apologize for an insensitive comment,” Berkowitz said in his Facebook clarification.
“To clarify, whether noon or midnight, I and APD work all day every day to keep our city safe and secure. We have brought back and expanded foot patrol, emphasized community policing, and dedicated staff to communicating with residents and neighborhoods. We will continue to work hard to address crime in Anchorage, keeping all Anchorage residents safe at all hours of the day and night. We have grown Anchorage’s police force to over 400 officers, demonstrating our tireless commitment to keeping Anchorage safe,” he said.
Berkowitz made his first remark in the hours following a triple homicide at a business called The Bullion Brothers — murders which were evidently was committed during business hours.
The second remark — his clarification fell short for some. It wasn’t an apology, and it was really more about him and all he had done, than about the concerns of a worried citizenry.
The killings brought the murders in Anchorage to 28 this year. At this time last year, there had been 25 — and that was a record. In 2016, 34 murders were documented.
“What the Hell is going on here in Anchorage, so many post of stolen car and truck, 4 wheelers etc. We all need to watch out for this and fight back. Not let these criminals get away with the S**** ! So sorry, hope you get your truck back,” – a comment typical of those posted in Anchorage in the past few days.
Others talked about taking the law into their own hands, and on the Dave Stieren show, discussion centered on arming oneself and taking concealed weapons classes:
I bought bullets for my gun today. haven’t had it loaded in over 5 years as the only thing I’ve ever used it for was target practice. I’d hate to aim at a human but I don’t want to be the victim. – Anchorage resident posting on NextDoor, Campbell/Taku area
Others have already done so, sleeping with guns ready in neighborhoods not normally prone to break-ins. One South Anchorage resident posted this account on NextDoor:
Two nights ago someone was in my backyard, which is fully fenced with a six foot cedar fence. My husband was out the door, gun in hand but they hid from him in the dark. I hate that we even have to sleep with our guns loaded on the nightstands but I’m so darn sick and tired of this crap. I’m all for a neighborhood watch in my neighborhood and will participate to get my streets clean. – Anchorage resident posting on NextDoor, Campbell/Taku area
And over near the University, residents have set up security cameras and are posting the video on Facebook, prompting others to ask for recommendations:
This thread has convinced me I should get some security cameras ?Can my friendly, vigilant neighbors recommend some inexpensive, easy to install (wireless with a phone viewing app, perhaps?) options? I can contribute footage of happenings on [street name redacted] to our virtual patrols! – Posted on Facebook
And still others were recommending the importance of installing security devices on vehicles:
I just want to share what a HUGE difference it makes to install some sort of GPS tracking device in your vehicle. There’s several small, low profile options. Last week APD was able to catch car thieves red handed, spray paint still dripping off the hub caps within an hour of stealing the vehicle. Even then the thieves had the time to remove the rack, take all the tools out and start making alterations to the vehicle in an alleyway. In finding the truck, they also found two more stolen motorcycles and a truck that’d been stolen in late 2016. Please consider investing in a GPS!! – Facebook responder
We’re in an Anchorage not seen before, where violent crime and property crime is epidemic, day and night.
Berkowitz the candidate had a different take on crime back in 2015:
“I am honored to receive the support of Anchorage Police Officers,” he wrote on Facebook while running on a “safe, secure” platform. “As mayor I will bring back the drug, gang and theft units, implement community policing, and hire more officers to keep the city safe.”
The City of Mayhem is still waiting, two years later. And it’s only gotten worse.