Crime & Courts

Anchorage Assembly approves purchase of long-delayed body-worn cameras for police

The Anchorage Assembly this week approved a $6.5 million contract that allows the Anchorage Police Department to purchase body-worn cameras, though it’s expected to take more than a year before all officers are wearing them.

The project has faced numerous delays that prompted backlash from advocates and the public over the time it’s taken Anchorage to implement the cameras, already long used by departments around the country and in Alaska cities. Police Chief Michael Kerle said during an Assembly Public Safety Committee meeting this month that he hopes to have the first officers wearing body cameras by November — about 30 in all — and all the department’s officers equipped by the end of next year.

Anchorage voters approved funding for the cameras more than two years ago in a $1.8 million tax increase. The department said at the time that officers could be equipped with cameras by the end of 2021.

Police officials have said policy disputes held up the implementation of cameras: the department finalized a policy for use last year, but then entered into negotiations with the union that ended when a compromise was reached in May.

Kerle at a recent public safety committee meeting said the department could not have purchased body cameras any sooner than this year because taxpayer funds needed first to be spent upgrading outdated computer-aided dispatch and record management systems. The department signed a five-year contract with technology company Hexagon to provide those services, which Kerle said are expected to launch early next year.

The police department in July selected Axon Enterprise Inc. to supply body cameras. The five-year contract includes interview-room recording and car video systems. The Assembly approved the contract in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The equipment will start shipping in September and October, Kerle said. The department will also begin replacing in-car video systems once they arrive, he said.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at