The Anchorage Police Department is moving closer to a years-long goal of boosting the size of its force. On Dec. 1, 26 new officers will graduate from the department’s second police academy of the year. And in a few weeks, 31 additional officers will enter a third academy. APD Communications Director Jennifer Castro said whether it’s on paper or on the street, there are just more police working in Anchorage.Listen Now“We have about 360 officers working independently full time on the streets of Anchorage, which is a lot more than what we had in 2015 — the beginning of 2015 we only had 320 officers working full time,” Castro said.The new graduates still have months of field-training before they’re working totally on their own. And though the department won’t know until roughly the beginning of the new year how many older officers will opt to retire, Castro is confident the department’s goal of 400 officers will soon be met, and expects the results of that expanded force to be evident by next fall.“What we’re really replenishing is on patrol, and with this added growth we’re now able to supply anywhere between 24 and 28 officers on each shift,” Castro said. “Which is great because it allows the officers to respond, be at more places, be at more calls, but also to have some more opportunities to do some more proactive policing because they will have that time available.”Staffing levels at APD are a source of political controversy in Anchorage, and were a main campaign promise of current mayor Ethan Berkowitz during the 2015 campaign. Even the 400-officer target is on the low end of what was recommended in the 2010 PERF report, updated in March of 2016, during the last mayor’s administration. Castro said the recent gains are a much needed asset after years of a declining force amid more calls for service.