APD announced (only after being questioned by assembly members) at the Assembly Public Safety Committee meeting on September 6, 2023, that APD has purchased 300 body cameras. The plan appears to have 30 cameras on officers on a trial basis by the end of 2023 and (maybe) fully implemented by the end of 2024. Then, at the October 4, 2023, Public Safety Committee meeting (a few days after an Op-Ed on body cameras appeared in the Anchorage Daily News, attached), Chief Kerle stated that 350 body cameras are being delivered and should be on 30 officers by the week of November 13, 2023.
That still leaves a massive question of when (or if) body cam recordings will be available to the public in a police shooting or “serious incident.” The current APD policy is that only the APD Chief can authorize public release, entirely at his discretion, without guidelines or timelines.
If APD refuses to modify its policy, the Justice Committee will advocate for other solutions. One would be to recommend that the Assembly modify the municipal Access to Public Records ordinance (Section 3.90.030) to allow the public release of BWC recordings in cases of APD use of force on a specific timeline and without a financial charge.
Another potential goal of the Justice Committee would be to advocate for revitalizing the Anchorage Public Safety Advisory Commission. The Commission has been inactive for several years and could be an effective vehicle for public discourse with APD regarding public safety policy.
Future Potential Projects:
The Justice Committee met in person on September 28, 2023, to brainstorm future projects on which committee members and allies could work.
APD Recruitment. People of color remain underrepresented in the Anchorage Police Department. We discussed how ABC could recruit community members to consider a career in law enforcement and mentor those interested in the application and qualification process.
Hiland Mountain Correctional programming. In the past, there have been programming opportunities for the women at Hiland Mountain that proved valuable in preparing women for their release from state custody.
Many of those programs have been discontinued in recent years. Could we recruit community members to volunteer to assist DOC in these programs?
Reentry from Incarceration. A big issue impacting our communities is the reentry of those who have been incarcerated. How can we assist those returning from custody to return to family and community successfully?
If anyone from the Alaska Black Caucus family would be interested in participating in any of these potential projects, don’t hesitate to contact the Alaska Black Caucus or members of the Justice Committee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.