Public policies and body cameras among possible changes coming to APD
Following weeks of protests against systemic racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, the Anchorage Assembly is looking at ways to implement change at the Anchorage Police Department. Some of those changes came up at a recent public safety committee meeting.
“We had a pretty good group that was giving us their perspective on things that are going on in the community regarding racism, and just some of the policies that could be in our police department,” said Assembly Member Crystal Kennedy. Kennedy represents Eagle River and Chugiak, and serves as a co-chair to the committee, alongside Assembly Member Kameron Perez-Verdia.
At the meeting, assembly members heard from APD Chief Justin Doll, as well as several prominent Black and Alaska Native community members about how to improve APD’s practices and relationship with the community.
“One of the immediate ways to do this is to create and codify a citizen or civilian review board to independently investigate alleged misconduct by law enforcement and review complaints of racism within the APD,” said Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus.
Several other speakers echoed the call for some form of a review board, including a revival of the
Another call was for more transparency and communication. Jasmin Smith, speaking as president of the Mountain View Community Council and a representative of Black Lives Matter Anchorage, said she felt conversations with APD were available, but only at a shallow level.
“When it becomes either too controversial, too deep, or too negative, it gets shut down and the narrative gets changed,” she said. “And unfortunately we can’t build trust or relationships that way.”
Some transparency is on its way though. Chief Doll said that APD is currently working to make its policies publicly available online after they were previously taken down for not being up-to-date.
“There might be some that are redacted due to operational concerns, but the vast majority will be there,” he said.
Assembly member Forrest Dunbar also said at the meeting that he and Assembly Member Meg Zalatel have submitted an ordinance to be introduced at the next meeting that would codify law requiring APD to make their policies available online as well. Jason Bockenstedt, the mayor’s chief of staff, said that was one of the avenues the administration was currently taking in regards to police reform, the other is a formal proposal for body cameras at APD, though that’s still in the works.
“That is obviously not as easy as just saying ‘let’s go out and buy it,” he said. “There’s a lot of other issues we have to work through.”