Anchorage Assembly to vote on purchase of body-worn cameras for police officers

Parking lot full of parked police cars. In the foreground, there is a patrol car with "Anchorage Police" on the side.
Police patrol cars sit in a row at the station in downtown Anchorage on August 31, 2022. (Valerie Kern/ Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage police are set to soon purchase body-worn cameras for their officers, more than two years after voters approved them. 

Anchorage Police Department officials finalized a body-worn camera policy with the police officers union in May, and on Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly will vote on approving a contract with Axon Enterprise for the purchase of the cameras. The contract is for roughly $6.5 million over five years and covers the cost of the cameras and the software for accessing footage. 

During an Assembly work session Friday, APD chief Michael Kerle said the department will initially get 30 cameras and begin training officers on how to use them in phases.

“By the time we do our test period, we’ll start receiving additional cameras and it’ll be a slow progression where the people that need cameras will have cameras.”

The initial batch of cameras is expected to be shipped in September and October. Kerle said he anticipates getting more than 300 cameras to outfit all officers by the end of 2024. 

Rich Curtner, an attorney for the Alaska Black Caucus, said in a community Zoom meeting Sunday that he’s hopeful the cameras will make the police more transparent and accountable. The Alaska Black Caucus is among the community groups frustrated by the slow process for implementing body cameras. Voters approved a $1.6 million tax increase back in April 2021 to buy the cameras. 

“I’ve seen so many written reports that are just a few lines that don’t even begin to capture what really happened,” Curtner said. “And that’s why I’m really concerned about, when we do have a shooting in Anchorage — and I can’t imagine we won’t someday — people are going to want to know where the body cams were.”

Some Assembly members are proposing to change the body camera policy to make the process easier for releasing footage to the public. A proposed ordinance would also prohibit officers from reviewing footage before writing an initial report if there was a use of force. 

Assembly member Daniel Volland co-sponsored the ordinance. It’s on the Assembly agenda for Tuesday night, but Volland said he expects it’ll get tabled indefinitely. 

“That’s just due to the legalities around the police union’s right to bargaining,” he said. “And really the Assembly doesn’t have a path to intervening in that.”

Volland said he shares the community’s frustration at the slow rollout of the body cameras, and is hopeful the purchase of the cameras on Tuesday will help get the ball rolling. 

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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