APD has presented a body camera policy that will fail to deliver transparency & accountability.
Eight months into the Anchorage Police Department's (APD) body-worn camera project, we fear that body cameras won't live up to the promise of improved accountability and transparency. Instead, it appears that it is becoming yet another tool in the police department's arsenal to collect information on residents, evade accountability, and obfuscate how APD polices the city.
We are disappointed. We are concerned.
All along, Chief Ken McCoy has stressed the importance of building trust and being accountable and transparent with the public. APD even reached out to the ACLU of Alaska, and we were happy to provide feedback. But we do not represent the entire community. On a whole, the way APD has collected input from the public makes it seem like they were doing so to check a box.
There has been very little public education, resulting in little public input. Then, on October 6, Municipal Manager Amy Demboski – not McCoy or a deputy – introduced a draft of the bodycam policy that dramatically fails to improve transparency and accountability on behalf of the police.
If the current draft of the policy is finalized, the public will almost certainly never see footage for incidents like the killings of William Riley-Jennings, shot by APD in Russian Jack Park last December, or Daelyn Polu, killed by police in February 2020. These are incidents that foment distrust, and where transparency and accountability are needed most. McCoy seemed to recognize this and indicated that he wanted the policy to include a provision that ensures public release of this kind of video. We need an explanation about why it wasn't.
The body camera program is shaping up to give away more of your freedom while using your taxpayer dollars. We shouldn't tolerate it. Together, we have to take action.
Read our full analysis of the growing problems with APD's bodycam project. <[link removed]>