Anchorage Assembly to consider ballot proposition for body cameras and other technologies for APD

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 8:17 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly is set to vote on an ordinance that could bring body cameras and other technology upgrades to the Anchorage Police Department.

The ordinance, AO 2020-116, if passed, would put the question on the municipality’s April ballot of whether to raise property taxes to generate $1,840,000 in revenues for the department, which translates to an estimated increase of $5.32 per $100,000 of property value.

At a work session Friday, Assembly Counsel Dean Gates compared the language in the ordinance to a capital bond proposition but pointed out the costs for this ordinance would be continuous.

“It’s increasing the tax cap permanently going forward, and not just for the capital improvements done when the bonds are sold and then retired,” he said.

Those funds would go towards leasing and maintaining a number of different tools and programs to address the department’s technology needs, including body-worn and in-car cameras, as well as digital evidence management. APD Chief Justin Doll said at the work session, the idea came about earlier in the year during discussions specifically on body cameras.

“That sort of folded into the existing technology needs that we have, and my recognition that we were not in a position to do sort of a one-off project, and they need to be sort of strategically aligned,” he said.

Doll and Assembly Member John Weddleton compared the ordinance to a similar voter-approved ballot proposition from 2020, which raised property taxes for the Anchorage, Chugiak and Girdwood fire departments to purchase various pieces of medical supplies. Neither proposition lists specific vendors, giving the departments the flexibility to change over time.

“We set up something similar to what the fire department did, which is enter into a lease agreement with a manufacturer, and then I don’t have to worry about the cameras in three years being usurped by some new technology,” Doll said. “That’s part of the contract, and the vendor just supplies a whole new realm of cameras.”

The ordinance is set to go before the assembly at their Dec. 8 meeting for public hearing, amendments and then a vote. It will need to pass by the end of the assembly’s Jan. 26 meeting to end up on the April ballot.

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