A full room of spectators at the Juneau Police Department headquarters on Monday leaned forward all at once and raised their phones, trying to capture the moment.
They were all there to attend the promotion ceremony for three JPD employees, and this was the picture-perfect moment. The spouses of the three men in uniform came forward, pinning the new badges to their husbands’ chests.
Almost everyone in the room was smiling at the moment, which lasted only a few seconds. The three men now carried the titles of Deputy Chief David Campbell, Lt. Krag Campbell and Sgt. Ben Beck.
This was the first promotion ceremony during Police Chief Ed Mercer’s time atop the department, and he had an optimistic look as he presented the trio of officers.
“I think our department’s in good hands with our leadership standing here before us today,” Mercer said.
David Campbell, a 22-year JPD veteran, was previously a lieutenant and the public information officer for the department. He has served in a variety of roles at the department, graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2016.
Mercer said one of David Campbell’s biggest strengths is the way he interacts with the community, and Campbell touched on his passion for Juneau during a brief speech.
“We all live here because we want to be here,” Campbell said. “In our free country, we can live wherever we want, we can choose to live in Juneau. Juneau is just a very, very special place. Juneau is home. I get a sense of belonging here.”
Krag Campbell, who was previously a sergeant for the force, began his role as lieutenant Oct. 2. He began working at JPD in 2002 and has served on various committees over the past 15 years, being promoted to sergeant in 2014. He said his new job has been going well so far, and expressed his gratitude to the department for the opportunity.
Beck, who joined the department in 2011, rises to his role after being a detective in the criminal investigation unit. He said he’ll spend the next few weeks in a mentorship program of sorts with Lts. Campbell and Scott Erickson before taking command of a small unit until the end of the year. To start 2018, he’ll take command of a larger unit, Beck said.
“I expect that the position of sergeant will be challenging,” Beck said, “and that I’ll grow and I’ll stretch. I know that the many people in this room and in this department that I’ve learned from will be there for me and I’ll continue to learn from them.”
City Manager Rorie Watt began Monday’s ceremony with an uncontroversial statement, saying that being a police officer is hard work. He said it’s particularly difficult to be an officer in Juneau at the moment, pointing specifically to the city’s rise in property crime and drug addiction.
With the Legislature debating whether to roll back portions of Senate Bill 91 (which aims to incarcerate fewer Alaskans), Watt said that’s also putting Juneau’s police in a tough spot and these three officers will be operating in a state of flux.
“Police work is hard right now because we have shifting sands,” Watt said. “We have our legislature actively debating what the state’s stance is on sentencing and what that means, directly affecting our police force.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.