Alaska State Troopers will soon be wearing body cameras. The public can comment on what the rules will be.
Around 30 Alaska state troopers and other state law enforcement will start wearing body cameras for the first time this coming spring under an Alaska Department of Public Safety pilot program. Ahead of the pilot program, the public can provide written comment from Wednesday through March 1 on the state’s draft body worn camera policy.
Public Safety Communications Director Austin McDaniel said body cameras are critical tools for “modern day policing.”
“Body cameras are going to enhance officer safety, and bolster our ability to collect information and evidence at crime scenes, at events, when interviews are occurring. I think these are going to be great tools to use in prosecutions. And then, of course, body cameras are going to help us enhance the public’s trust by providing really solid accurate representations of police officer and Alaskan interactions, with video and audio recordings,” McDaniel said.
Currently, many state trooper and wildlife trooper vehicles are equipped with dash cameras, which typically have a front view, a rear view and a prisoner compartment view, said McDaniel.
“The body worn camera we selected – the Motorola V300 – actually integrates directly with our dash-cam system, so it will essentially be a fourth view of the dash-cam system that the officer wears,” McDaniel said.
Alaska Department of Public Safety
ATTN: BWC Comments
5700 East Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99507
Alaska Department of Public Safety
Every trooper is currently equipped with a personal audio recording device. McDaniel said it will likely be up to individuals whether they continue to use one or not once body cameras come online, since the cameras will also record audio.
The draft policy – which the public can comment on – will govern the use of all three devices: body worn cameras, personal audio recorders and dash cameras. The draft policy describes when officers should activate a device to record evidence. It also outlines when Public Safety may release recordings.
“Typically, most recordings that are associated with criminal investigations aren’t going to be released until the court proceedings are wrapped up because the Department of Public Safety and the state of Alaska as a whole, we have a responsibility to respect and honor and protect a defendant’s right to a fair trial. So, in most instances, that would not be something we would release,” McDaniel said.
However, he said, the department understands and respects that there are situations when the public wants recordings released earlier and the department plans to meet that need to increase public trust.
“We are going to be proactively releasing – whether it’s body camera, dash camera or audio – recordings of in-custody deaths, including officer-involved shootings, or other critical incidents once investigators are able to complete their primary interviews with all of the involved parties,” he said.
“We really would like the Alaskans that we serve to take a look at our draft policy and give us their candid feedback and help us improve it in a way that works for Alaskans all across the state,” McDaniel said.
Public Safety will begin a pilot program this spring to work out any issues with logistics, policy or technology. Around 30 Alaska state troopers, Alaska wildlife troopers and court services officers that are operating in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Interior and the Kenai Peninsula will receive body cameras.
The rest of the 600 body cameras will go to other state troopers, wildlife troopers, village public safety officers, commissioned officers in the State Fire Marshal’s Office and court services officers later in the year.