Alaska Black Caucus and other groups threaten legal action over APD’s lack of body cameras

a window that says Anchorage Police Department Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage Police Department downtown headquarters. (Hannah Lies/Alaska Public Media)

The Alaska Black Caucus and other advocacy groups say they’re considering legal action over the Anchorage Police Department still not having body cameras, more than 16 months after voters approved buying them.

The groups decried the lack of body cameras on officers — and the lack of a body camera policy — in a letter they sent Monday to Police Chief Michael Kerle, Mayor Dave Bronson and Anchorage Assembly chair Suzanne LaFrance.

“We cannot wait for another death to spur Anchorage into action,” the letter says.

Rich Curtner, with the Alaska Black Caucus, said it seems like work on the body camera policy has slowed in recent months. When voters approved the cameras last April, he said, then-Chief Ken McCoy had organized several community meetings on the policy, and progress was coming together quickly. 

“And so we were really moving and then, all of a sudden, Chief McCoy left and we’ve stalled out since then,” Curtner said. “We made some progress, but it hasn’t been very transparent — what the progress is — which is the unfortunate thing.”

Kerle took over as police chief in February, replacing McCoy who announced his resignation suddenly in early December.

In the letter, advocates requested a firm timeline for when officials anticipate the body-worn camera policy will be implemented. Curtner said the groups are considering legal action if a timeline isn’t presented by mid-September. 

“A lot of times, you can ask, and you might not get an answer,” Curtner said. “But many times, when a judge asks somebody ‘What’s going on,’ then you’ll get an answer. The judge has a lot more power than we do.”

He said he also hopes that once the policy is finalized, it has a clear pathway for public access to camera footage, beyond the sometimes lengthy public records request process. In the letter, advocates highlighted a Department of Justice statistic that over 80% of police departments in the country already have body cameras on officers. 

“Anchorage and the APD are sorely behind the times,” the letter says.

Jeremy Conkling is the head of the Anchorage police union, APDEA. He said there have been two negotiation sessions between the union, the police department and the Bronson administration about the policy. A big sticking point for the union, he said, is allowing officers to review footage.

“Prior to making a statement, prior to writing police reports, prior to going to court to testify as a witness,” Conkling said. “So that what the officer then reports is the most accurate and thorough representation of what they saw and perceived and heard on that call.”

Conkling said the union supports having body cameras, and while he’s frustrated with how long the process has taken, he’d like the policy to be thorough.

An Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman said she didn’t have a timeline for when the body cameras will be implemented, and declined to comment on the policy. 

Conkling said the police union, city officials and the police department are expected to go into a third negotiation session on Wednesday.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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