Alaska Troopers receiving funds to purchase body worn cameras
Commissioner aims to have Troopers equipped by next year, thinks body-cams will help reduce litigation
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska State Troopers finally received funding needed to purchase body-worn cameras, which will soon be issued as standard equipment for all troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers throughout the state, according to Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell.
This $4 million purchase has been years in the making, and has been at the center of controversy for those who feel troopers should have been equipped with body cameras long ago.
The department has finally secured the funding needed, which began when the United States Department of Justice provided just under a million dollars last year. Those federal dollars will now be combined with $3 million Gov. Mike Dunleavy recently allocated from the state’s general fund during his fiscal year 2023 budget, earmarked for the department’s needs, which included body-worn cameras.
The federal grant money has rules that require Cockrell to first administer the cameras to troopers stationed in rural villages, where safety concerns are most prevalent.
“We’ve got some hurdles to overcome — especially connectivity in our rural areas like Bethel, Emmonak and Selawik — places that we have troopers and CSO’s and VPSO’s,” Cockrell said.
Cockrell said that the transition into small villages should take place by the beginning of next year, and that he hopes to have every trooper equipped with body cams by the middle of next year.
“We’re excited. I think it’s good for the public, I know it’s good for our troopers,” Cockrell said. “I think it’ll reduce our litigation, cases that would go to court, because everything is just going to be out there.”
Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s new budget allocated $24 million earmarked to address the needs of the department. Cockrell said that he intends to use the funds, in part, to hire up to 100 additional troopers. He plans to spread them more evenly across the state. Currently, the department is only authorized to offer 319 trooper and 87 wildlife trooper positions. Cockrell says these new body cams should reassure the public that cases will be handled transparently, especially since copies of body cam videos will also be available to purchase.
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