APD says body cameras are coming, but aren’t sure when

Questions still linger in the air when APD body cameras will come
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 7:04 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Last Friday was filled with emotions for Celeste Hodge Growden as she sat in her living room anticipating the release of police body camera footage showing the beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man who was beaten by Memphis police officers in early January.

“I’m kind of in disbelief, I’m saddened,” Growden said on Friday.

Growden, the CEO and president of the Alaska Black Caucus, believes the release of the footage is a grim wake-up call to the need and the importance of having body cameras, especially in Anchorage, she said, where the city is still waiting for the implementation of police-worn body cameras.

In April 2021, the city passed a property tax levy to fund the purchase of body cameras for the Anchorage Police Department. Now, after almost a two-year delay, officials say the need for arbitration regarding the policy and implementation of cameras has been to blame for the wait.

“We want a policy that protects the privacy of Anchorage citizens, in the respect of, decisions like when do the officers that turn the cameras off, when should they not be using it. One of the other issues we’re discussing is when can officers view their own body-worn camera footage,” Anchorage Police Department Employee Union President Darrell Evans said.

The arbitration process is set to take place in April. The union said that an arbitration decision is typically made in around 30 days. However, Anchorage Police Department said they are not expecting an answer until fall.

“APD administration stated they expect a decision by fall due to not knowing if there will be arbitration delays. APD is hoping the BWC policy will be finalized earlier, but the timeframe of “fall” is a fairly safe expectation,” Public Information Officer Renee Oistad said in an email.

Both parties noted that they are not sure when the cameras would hit the streets, a delay that is disheartening to many.

“The fact that Fairbanks and other cities in Alaska have them and the largest city Anchorage does not, is again something that is frustrating,” Growden said.

The union says there is one thing for sure.

“The body cameras are going to happen. They are going to be implemented,” Evans said.

The exact date, however, is still up in the air.