Late last night an Anchorage police officer was shot five times while sitting in his cruiser on Medfra St. just north of 15th Ave., while filling out paperwork after an interview. The case is mysterious, lacking an apparent motive and naturally has generated a lot of anxiety, speculation and strongly worded opinions. I’m reluctant to consider comments on ADN‘s web site as reflective of mainstream community opinion, but one in particular is sticking with me [emphasis mine]:
jfries wrote on 01/09/2010 09:58:04 AM:
I firmly believe that Anchorage has some of the best police officers. Would very many among us want to respond to a call for help in that area at 2 a.m.? These officers serve with strength, respect, and dignity. Thoughts and prayers for the full recovery of this officer and to comfort his family and friends. I was touched by the following quote on the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial:
‘The policeman is a peace time soldier always at war. It is not how these officers died that made them heroes. It is how they lived.’
This post was the eighth most recommended [29 recommendations] out of 179 posts, before it was replaced late tonight by a newer version of the story [by the same reporter].
I would love it if whoever wrote this would discard their cloak of pseudonymity and expound on their negative opinion of Fairview a little bit. Do they really have sheets of statistics that prove that Fairview’s a more dangerous place than the rest of Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska? I’d like to see the documenation!
West Downtown, Inlet View and South Addition, immediately adjacent to Fairview are today generally considered “safe” areas, where Fairview is not, because they began to be populated with people of wealth and influence [or, what passes for same in Anchorage] who pinched their buddies on the Assembly and in City Hall to eliminate liquor stores in their neighborhoods. This action did not eliminate the number of liquor stores in the city — the number of which is based on population — it simply pushed the stores to the boundary of the “safe” area, where they accumulated by the half-dozen along Spenard Rd., and Gambell St. in Fairview.
That action [artificially] contributes to the urban legend that Spenard, Fairview and Mt. View are unsafe areas — becaue they are plagued by a bunch of drunks staggering in the streets and sidewalks, compared to the nearby “safe” area. However, the occurance of violent crime [such as the shooting of Officer Allen] is consistently random in the city at large, not confined to any one neighborhood.
I’m not trying to defend anyone who committed the crime — they should be locked up — but the denigration of the neighborhood per se has to stop. I’m not sure if jfries has much experience with Fairview, or has lived there or not? That part of Medfra St., with well-maintained 1940s-50s era houses does not appear very much like a community that engeneders or tolerates random violent crime. I have passed through there, between 15th and 5th innumerable times since the early ’80s. I ride a bike through Fairview practically every work day. I’d ride through there at 2 AM without a second thought.