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‘A sign of hope’: Kenneth McCoy appointed as 1st African American police chief in APD’s 100-year history

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 11:33 AM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 8:04 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The acting mayor of Anchorage appointed the city’s acting chief of police Friday morning, who is set to make history as the first African American chief of police in the Anchorage Police Department’s 100-year history.

Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson chose Deputy Chief of Police Kenneth McCoy to replace Police Chief Justin Doll while he is on leave before official retirement. The change will go into effect at 8 a.m. Monday.

“For an announcement like this to be made during our 100th year, that our first African American chief is going to be at the helm, is very humbling and meaningful to me, and to my family, to this community,” McCoy said. “And I think it serves as a sign of hope that, you know, we can come together and we can heal and we can make positive change.”

McCoy has served in the city police force for nearly three decades. He has worked in the patrol division, detective division and internal affairs. He has been serving as deputy chief for four years.

He said his top priorities as acting chief will be trust and transparency.

“My top priority will be trying to build and earn trust with the community,” McCoy said. “And I think that’s our biggest challenge because a large portion of the community and, particularly communities of color, have lost confidence in law enforcement, nationwide, and you know, it’s my goal on a daily basis to work to build that trust with our communities so they can feel good about what their police departments are doing.”

When asked if he has specific plans for improving transparency, McCoy said “everything is on the table.”

“I have some ideas and plans, but what I’m going to do is over the next few days, sit down with my command staff, and we’re going to be really taking a close look at how we do business and what we do, why we do it, and I will be speaking to the community also about those concerns and issues,” McCoy said. “And those are things that we’re going to look at and we’re going to tackle. So, I have plans, but again, you know, I want to be able to be thoughtful and deliberate about what we do.”

Voters are set to elect a new mayor in a runoff election in May. The winner will then make a permanent police chief appointment.

McCoy said he would be interested in a permanent appointment, but is looking forward to serving in the role even if it’s only for two months.

“I’m going to show up every day and do the very best I can to keep this department moving forward,” he said.

Before joining Anchorage Police, McCoy served 10 years with the Alaska Army National Guard. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in justice from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a criminal justice certificate from the University of Virginia.

He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, session 265, and the FBI National Executive Institute, session 42.

McCoy is an executive board member of the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police and the Alaska chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates. He is also a member of the FBI National Executive Institute Associates, the FBI National Academy Associates, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Alaska Peace Officers Association.

Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with quotes from an interview with Kenneth McCoy.