- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Kodiak police will no longer wear body cameras due to equipment issues and privacy concerns.

Police Chief Ronda Wallace told the Kodiak City Council that she was ending the program because the problems outweighed the equipment’s functionality, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported (https://bit.ly/2bdFTfx ).

“Most officers liked wearing the cameras (when the program started), which did two things: Gave visual facts as to an incident officers and citizens were involved in, and accountability to the officers and citizens alike,” she said on Thursday. “On the managerial front, I found it valuable having a tool to review and assess my officers’ interactions within the community and their individual strengths and weaknesses.”

But despite those benefits, Wallace said police encounters often involve private matters that residents would not want to be made public through body camera video. The department would likely be required to release body camera recordings through public records requests even though some of it could be harmful to a citizen’s reputation.

Beyond that, the cameras often record bystanders who are not involved in the police matter.

The department also had problems with the equipment. Wallace says the cameras have a button that makes it easy to accidentally turn off audio recording, and the cameras would easily fall off officer’s uniforms.

“These issues were distracting to officers while conducting their investigations,” Wallace said. “Officers’ attentions should not be focused on whether their equipment is working or not. They need to be focused on the needs of the citizens they are serving.”

Kodiak is not the first police department to identify privacy concerns. A 2014 study by the Police Executive Research Forum found that police departments cited all equipment and privacy concerns as well as concerns over video storage and a lack of guidance on filming policies.

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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