Acting Bethel Police Chief Amy Davis is leaving her job and leaving town, but she said that she will stay until the city hires a replacement. She wants to help the new police chief get started before she moves on.
Davis has served with the department for 10 years, working her way up to an acting role in the top job, and is moving to Fairbanks to work in that city’s police department. She said that the decision was prompted by her oldest daughter starting college in Fairbanks.
“My youngest will be starting in a couple of years, so we decided to just follow her around,” Davis said.
Davis is proud of the department’s work forming local partnerships on issues from domestic violence to child advocacy. She is also proud of how the department is working to get more local residents into the police force.
“I hope that the officers continue to grow, and some of these local officers that plan on being here forever get up there in the leadership role and eventually are running the department,” Davis said.
Under her guidance, the Bethel Police Department had to make some changes in how it operates to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Police are now dealing with a lot of complaints, like routine property damage, over the phone and email. The department’s lobby has been closed to the public. The department has also had to scale back its efforts at community policing. Davis says that it's too early to see how the pandemic has affected crime and domestic violence in Bethel. She says that the biggest changes in the call volume seem to be associated with alcohol use and availability in the community.
Policing any community results in a lot of stories, and Davis leaves Bethel with 10 years worth of them. For example, she shared one about how a police complaint became a commercial. When she was new on the force, someone put up fake posters saying that a Taco Bell franchise was coming to town, instructing people interested in a job or pre-ordering tacos to call a local number. The prank victim was besieged by calls, and Bethel residents were disappointed when it was exposed as a prank.
“Taco Bell somehow found out about it, and they decided they were going to bring 10,000 tacos out to Bethel. And they got a Blackhawk [helicopter] and a truck to bring out to Bethel,” Davis remembered. “They flew it up and down the Kuskokwim River and made a commercial out of it.”
Police never found out who was behind that prank, and after that delivery, Taco Bell never did set up shop in Bethel.
Davis’s advice to Bethel’s next police chief? Wait and see why things are done the way they are before making changes.