Alaska DPS begins issuing BWCs to troopers, wildlife troopers and other LEOs across state
Officials finalized a policy and have begun issuing body-worn cameras in a rollout to several hundred employees
By Tess Williams
Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Department of Public Safety announced Monday that 30 law enforcement officers are now using body cameras — the first step in the agency's larger plan to outfit roughly 400 employees with the cameras by the end of the year.
The limited rollout comes less than a year after the department was awarded roughly $3.5 million in state funds and nearly $1 million in federal funding to outfit troopers, wildlife troopers, court services officers, deputy fire marshals and village public safety officers with cameras.
The limited rollout officially began Monday, although a number of the law enforcement officers began using the cameras in April after they completed training, said department spokesman Austin McDaniel.
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The officers selected to participate in the initial rollout are located in Anchor Point, Anchorage, Cantwell, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Soldotna, the department said in a release. The final rollout is expected to begin this fall.
Public safety officials say they have finalized the policy that determines how the body cameras will be used following a public comment period in February and feedback from groups including department staff and the Public Safety Employees Association, the union representing law enforcement personnel around the state. There haven't been any major changes to the policy since it was first publicly released, McDaniel said.
Body cameras are commonplace in a majority of large police departments across the country, many of which have turned to the devices to increase public trust and improve transparency and accountability. A number of law enforcement agencies in Alaska, including Juneau and Fairbanks police, have used body cameras for years.
The Anchorage Police Department, however, has yet to launch body cameras for its officers.
Voters in Anchorage approved a $1.8 million annual tax increase more than two years ago to fund body cameras for the local police department, but the program has been repeatedly delayed. The Alaska Black Caucus filed a lawsuit against the municipality in April over the delays.
Police Chief Michael Kerle announced the day after the lawsuit was filed that the department was moving forward with body cameras even as negotiations with the APD officer union continued. He also said the department has selected a vendor for the cameras but has not said when officers will be wearing them.
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