Juneau Police Department to outfit 40 officers with body cameras

first_imgA policeman wears a body camera during 2016 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in North Charleston, South Carolina. The Juneau Police Department plans to use grant money to outfit 40 of its officers with body cameras. (Creative Commons photo by North Charleston)The Juneau Police Department plans to outfit 40 of its officers with body cameras to improve evidence gathering, transparency and accountability.Listen Now The department will have the money to buy those cameras after the Juneau Assembly approved appropriating $19,360 as a partial match for a U.S. Department of Justice grant, at its Nov. 7 meeting. However, Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch and Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis opposed the appropriation in the 7-2 vote.Nankervis is a retired Juneau Police Department captain.“I have a suspicion that not all of the legality of the body cameras has been worked out yet and it has the potential to cost the city far more for having the body cameras than not having the body cameras,” Nankervis said.Nankervis was skeptical the cameras would reduce unfounded grievances. He alluded to Kodiak Public Broadcasting Corp.’s lawsuit against the city of Kodiak about the release of audio and video recordings showing local police officers roughing up a man with autism. The recordings were eventually released.Juneau Police Chief Bryce Johnson said whatever recordings may show in incidents like that, the public and police are better off with them.“It’s good if the police did it right, it’s good for the public to know we did it right,” Johnson said. “And if we did it wrong, we need to own that and fix it. And it’s good for the public to know when we do it wrong, that we admit to our mistakes and we make them better.”Nankervis also said he had concerns about body cameras infringing on privacy. Johnson countered that video is no more an infringement of privacy than an officers eyes and notes — its just creates a more accurate record.“My firm professional opinion is the benefit we get out of them far outweighs the potential problems that they may come back and bring us,” Johnson said.Nankervis said cameras and recordings create an expectation that everything is recorded. Conversely, he said that when something isn’t recorded, it reduces the chance of prosecution and could create a suspicion that authorities have tampered with the recordings.Mayor Koelsch, who participated in the meeting by phone, did not elaborate on his vote.last_img

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