Kodiak mayor seeks answers to police body-cam policy change

The move by Kodiak Police Department to discontinue the use of video cameras attached to officers’ uniforms was a surprise to Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson and the city council.

The discontinuance of using body cameras was confirmed in an e-mail from Police Chief Ronda Wallace.

“Well, it’s an administrative and police policy,” Branson said. Branson was out of state last week. “The council doesn’t get into that. And we are being presented with that information.”

When Branson was informed of the change to police procedure, she asked that the chief make a presentation to the city council.

“We will have that information as to why that decision made,” she said, “and then it will be made public, as well.”

The report will be made in open session, and not in a closed, executive session, she said.

Video from an incident with KPD officers nearly one year ago is central to an ongoing civil lawsuit claiming excessive use of force, but the mayor said that denying video evidence in police misconduct cases is definitely not one of the reasons for discontinuing use of the police body cams.

The city of Kodiak is currently defending itself against two alleged police misconduct cases.

Despite Mayor Branson has asked for the report from the police chief, it has not appeared on tonight’s work session agenda or Thursday night’s regular meeting agenda.

Jay Barrett is the news director at KMXT in Kodiak.

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