- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Juneau Assembly has agreed to give the city police department more than $19,000 to help fund the purchase of body cameras.

The assembly voted to appropriate the money from asset forfeiture funds Monday. The money will be in addition to a $25,000 grant the U.S. Department of Justice awarded the police department last month for the purchase of 40 body cameras, The Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2eTqXSr).

Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis, a former Juneau officer, was the only assembly member to vote against the funding proposal. He cited potential privacy concerns with police recording footage that may expose the city to litigation.

“I understand the impetus behind going to body cameras, but I have a suspicion that not all of the legality with them has been worked out yet, and it will cost the city far more to have body cameras than not to have them,” Nankervis said.

Assembly member Mary Becker, who shared the same concerns but still supported the measure, used a hypothetical situation to say officers could be accused of invading someone’s privacy.

“When an officer goes into Mr. Jones’ home, and the camera is on, and his wife comes out of his bedroom, and she’s ready for bed, that’s an invasion of privacy,” Becker said.

Police Bryce Johnson acknowledged the potential liability but pointed out that in Becker’s scenario, an officer looking at somebody in a home who doesn’t want to be seen would also be invading a person’s privacy. Johnson said the body cameras will do more good than harm.

“The camera is going to accurately record what happened and protect the officer and the public because if the officer did something wrong we still want to know about it,” Johnson said. “I’m not here to say that body cameras are a perfect system or that all of the questions have been answered, but it is my professional opinion that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.”

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com


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