Anchorage police body camera discussion moves into arbitration, extending purchasing delays
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Protestors gathered outside of the Anchorage Police Department headquarters Thursday evening to protest the delays of body cameras for Anchorage police officers, and to spread awareness of the need for the cameras.
“When the allies protest today some of them will be wearing body cams. It took them you know, like a week to get them,” said Rich Curtner, Justice Co-Chair for Alaska Black Caucus. “It’s just kind of interesting that we’ll be wearing body cams. Where are the other body cams on the police officers?”
Curtner said he and others are tired of waiting for an explanation of why it is taking so long for Anchorage police officers to have body cameras.
“My question is what are you doing, where are the body cameras,” Curtner said.
In 2021, Anchorage voters approved a property tax levy to purchase body cameras for the Anchorage Police Department. That tax revenue was projected to raise $1.84 million annually. However, over 18 months later, Anchorage residents said they are still left with questions and a police department without cameras.
“The body cameras were supposed to be on the street a year ago in 2021 and we’re still waiting,” Curtner said.
According to the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association, the delays are due to a disagreement between APD command and the Municipality of Anchorage over pre-statement reviews for officers.
“Essentially the policy outlines certain instances when an officer cannot review their body-worn camera footage and we disagree with what the municipality’s stance is. We think the officers should always be able to review them,” said APDEA President Jeremy Conkling.
That disagreement has caused a pause in moving forward with the cameras. Now, the process is moving into arbitration.
“We had several negotiation sessions (with the municipality), we opted to not go to mediation but to go straight to arbitration because there is a specific clause in our contract with the municipality that requires a change like this to go directly to arbitration if we can’t agree on it,” Conkling said.
Yet, the ABC said the delays have gone on too long and they want answers.
“One thing we wanted to know is, we waited for it to go to arbitration it’s, we don’t know really what the whole process is that’s holding it up. We have had different excuses for the last year and a half,” Curtner said.
However, APDEA said they do not have a set date when APD officers will receive body cameras. Conkling said that the arbitration process, however, is tentatively set to start in the early part of 2023.
“I can understand the frustration but our focus is on getting this program set up so that it meets the needs of our citizens and protects the due process rights of our officers and we will work as expeditiously as possible to make that happen,” Conkling said.
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