Anchorage police say they’re moving forward with body cameras, but there’s no specific timeline

Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle (left) and Deputy Chief Sean Case at a news conference at APD headquarters on April 20, 2023. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage police officials say they’re moving forward with getting body cameras on officers, even though they’re locked in a dispute with the police officers union. 

It’s a major announcement in a two-year wait for the Anchorage Police Department to outfit its officers with body cameras. Voters approved a $1.8 million tax levy to purchase the cameras two years ago. But the police department and the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association, the police union, have remained at odds over the camera policy and, just Wednesday, the nonprofit Alaska Black Caucus sued the city over the delay.

Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle said Thursday that the department will move toward getting cameras on officers as the policy is sorted out. The union and department have delayed arbitration on the policy to fall. 

“We always thought that the policy and the implementation had to be concurrent,” Kerle said at a news conference Thursday morning. “I was informed by the municipal legal team that they are actually two separate things, that I can implement body-worn cameras while the arbitration is going on.”

Kerle said he doesn’t currently have a timeline for when the body cameras will be on officers.

In a statement, APDEA president Darrell Evans said the getting the cameras on officers is a priority.

“Our members want body-worn cameras; they show the amazing work our officers do to keep out families, friends and neighbors safe,” Evans wrote. “We will continue to work with the Anchorage Police Department to ensure that the body-worn camera policy meets the needs of our officers and the community.”

The police department on Thursday also released the latest version of the body camera policy, which they’ll use after they buy the cameras. The most significant change: There is new language surrounding the release of camera footage. Footage would be subject to public records requests, and can only be released after investigations have concluded, which can take months or years. However, Deputy Police Chief Sean Case said a new section of the policy allows for the police chief to release footage of incidents like police shootings before an investigation wraps.

“That third paragraph gives the chief the ability to kind of circumvent that system in incidents that are of public interest that the media wants to know about and the public wants to know about,” Case said.

The policy also prohibits officers from reviewing or copying camera footage under specific circumstances, including when there’s use of deadly force, when there’s an in-custody death or when an APD employee is the subject of a criminal investigation. Whether officers could review footage ahead of writing reports was a sticking point for the union during contract negotiations, though neither the police department nor the union will comment on what has led to the need for the ongoing arbitration. 

Kerle said the policy could change based on what comes out of arbitration.

Alaska Black Caucus president Celeste Hodge-Growden said she’s pleased that the police department is moving forward with getting the body cameras, but she’s still wary. The nonprofit has long advocated for cameras on police, and has raised repeated concerns about how long Anchorage’s process was taking.

“I’m happy to see that there’s some movement,” Hodge-Growden said. “I just want to see now the timeline for getting these body cams.” 

Kerle said the department’s announcement Thursday had nothing to do with the timing of the Alaska Black Caucus lawsuit. 

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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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