Two Years Waiting for Police Body Cameras
Minority groups in Anchorage continue to be unprotected from police abuse because the cameras that officers are required to wear have yet to arrive. The community has been waiting two years for them, but the Assembly says a “more practical approach” needs to be “adopted” to implement them. There is outrage in the Alaska Black Caucus. Its representatives see Mayor Bronson’s shadow in this new delay.
During an Assembly Public Safety committee meeting last week, Sean Case, Deputy Police Chief, gave an update on the status of body cameras. He announced that although the Anchorage Police Department and the APD Employees Association have been locked in negotiations over implementation of the body camera policy for months and that in April, they were to enter arbitration over it, the arbitration is now delayed until Fall.
“After two years of waiting and pushing for the implementation of body cameras, I am extremely frustrated and angry at the unnecessary delays. Body cameras on APD officers will protect Latinos and Blacks, as well as officers and agents. That’s why they are used in the vast majority of American cities.”
These are the words of Rich Curtner, co-chair of the ABC (Alaska Black Caucus) Justice Committee, speaking to Sol de Medianoche.
“I have my own suspicions as to the reason for this delay,” Curtner states. “The previous administration and APD leadership were prepared to have body cameras by the end of 2021. Chief McCoy (former Anchorage Police Department chief) invited community input and feedback on the body camera policy. That all changed after Bronson was elected mayor. I’m sure another mayor would have made sure we already had body cameras. Ultimately, the mayor has the responsibility to ensure public safety. I believe I am entitled to have these suspicions after there has been no transparency or accountability from City Hall over the past two years.”
“The delay in implementing body cameras in Anchorage is a travesty. There’s no other way to put it. This is a travesty,” Nick Feronti, an attorney with Northern Justice Project, LLC, the private civil rights, and special education firm that focuses on representing Alaskans in complex lawsuits against state and federal governments and large corporations, tells our newspaper.
Feronti says, “In April 2021, all Anchorage residents came together to vote on this issue. All of us, together, decided that we need APD to have these body cameras. In fact, we voted to tax ourselves $1.8 million just to make this happen.”
“Yet here we are in April 2023, two years later, and APD continues to ignore the will of the people of Anchorage. Where are the cameras we all voted for, and paid for?”
“This is a disgrace,” exclaims Nick Feronti without hiding his outrage. “When we look at other cities across the country, we know that, even in 2016, more than 80 percent of large police departments in the country already had body cameras. Years later, we’re still behind.”
“APD leadership and the police union must put the citizens of Anchorage first. They must immediately resolve any outstanding body camera issues. And they must ensure that the citizens of this city have the safety and transparency they deserve from law enforcement.”