More than two dozen people gathered outside the Anchorage Police Department headquarters Thursday evening, raising signs and echoing cheers in protest of long delays in APD’s efforts to outfit officers with body cameras.
Anchorage voters approved a $1.8 million annual tax levy in April 2021 to fund the technology, along with updates to the department’s dispatch and records management systems. Former police chiefs said the department planned to have officers wearing cameras by the end of 2021. Chief Michael Kerle has repeatedly said there now is no timeline.
Kerle has also said that the department will roll out body camera usage on a limited basis. There is no timeline for when body cameras will be fully implemented for the entire police department.
The department experienced a series of delays while developing a policy for use and is now in negotiation with the union. It’s unclear when those negotiations could end. The department has not selected a vendor to buy the equipment from, though Kerle said during recent Public Safety Committee meetings that officials are finalizing a request for proposal that will start that process.
The rally Thursday night was planned by the Alaska Black Caucus and its Allies4Change Group. Participants and organizers said they want to see officers outfitted with body cameras because it provides transparency and accountability. They feel the long delays in the process are unreasonable and go against what voters were promised.
“It’s a public trust issue,” said Renee Endicott, the administrator of Allies4Change. “How can we expect Anchorage Police Department to protect and serve us if they’re not holding up their end of the deal?”
Participants held up signs bearing phrases like “No accountability, no justice,” “Serve and protect, not hurt and neglect” and “APD where’s my $$$.” Several passersby stopped to join, honked their horns or hollered in support as the group shouted chants outside the police department and as they marched to the city hall several blocks away.