At the Intersection of Community and Agency

At the Intersection of Community and Agency Title
Since last year, important conversations regarding the topic of equity and accountability in law enforcement have occurred across the country. It’s a topic close to Kenneth McCoy, B.A. Justice ’96, having made it the cornerstone of his entire career philosophy.

As deputy chief of operations for the Anchorage Police Department (APD) since 2017, every uniformed man and woman in a patrol car conducting criminal police investigation falls under McCoy’s chain of command, including detectives, school resource officers, K-9s and SWAT.

McCoy’s position is the culmination of a 27-year career with APD. Starting at the patrol level, he steadily rose through the ranks with detective and command assignments in the Special Victims and Robbery/Assault Units.

Before his current assignment, McCoy was tasked with leading the Internal Affairs Unit, which works directly with the chief of police to hold officers accountable for misconduct and address concerns from the community.

“Being in that role where we’re holding ourselves accountable and protecting the community trust inspired me to continue to that level where I can influence the whole agency to respond in the most professional and compassionate manner possible,” said McCoy. “That’s something I believe in and felt like I could carry the department along as I moved through the ranks.”

Out of McCoy’s many responsibilities — which until recently also included the duties of deputy chief of administration — there are two that stand out as the most important. The first is leading the department by example. And the second is maintaining a trustworthy and communicative relationship with the community, which is something APD has cultivated over the years by encouraging positive off-duty engagements and establishing regular outreach programs.

”When I see and talk about what has transpired across the country over the last year, it’s placed me in a pivotal role where I have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the police and the communities affected by discrimination,” said McCoy. “We have a special relationship with Anchorage and we’re fortunate that we do. There’s been a lot of investment over the years connecting our department with the community and instilling in our officers to treat everyone with dignity and respect. But it can always be better, and we’re always working to be better.”

Becoming a police officer wasn’t always the plan for McCoy. While he always knew he wanted to work in law enforcement, it took some time before he knew exactly in what capacity.

A self-described army brat, McCoy originally wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the armed services. And he did just that by attending a military institute in New Mexico and enlisting with the Army National Guard, eventually attaining the rank of second lieutenant.

Upon returning home to Anchorage, McCoy enrolled at UAA to become an attorney. But the more he studied, the more he realized that what he actually wanted to do was to work widely and visibly with the community as an officer. Case closed.

“Once I started studying law enforcement, I saw where I could make a difference and help people in their time of need and be that visible symbol of hope. That’s what I saw in police work,” said McCoy. “Lawyers do a lot of good work, but it’s not as visible where you can see the good that’s being done. Looking back, I think it was a really good decision and I wouldn’t change it. Really my time at UAA solidified that desire that this is what I want to do and gave me the tools I needed to take that step.”