- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - The Kodiak Police Department is looking to reinstate its use of body cameras, months after officers stopped wearing the devices because of concerns with equipment problems and privacy.

Officers wore body cameras from February through December 2015. Police Chief Ronda Wallace told the Kodiak Daily Mirror in an email Monday (https://bit.ly/2ejGT4Q) the department has been looking into other types of cameras following the program’s suspension and has determined the Taser Axon Flex model would be the best fit.

The department previously used a camera from another manufacturer. Wallace told the City Council in August officers had experienced several problems with the devices, including complaints about a button that made it easy to accidentally stop recording, the inability to keep cameras attached to officers’ uniforms and slow starts to recording.

Wallace said she believes the new devices will help prevent those issues. The Taser product has just one button for turning the camera on and off, a pre-recording functionality that starts the recording 30 seconds before the button is pushed and it can be mounted near the officer’s head, according to a public notification from Wallace.

While there were no complaints filed by the public about privacy issues last year, Wallace said she had her concerns.

“As I viewed camera footage it became apparent to me there may be issues regarding privacy if we were asked to release videos. That time came and we were not able to redact people’s faces or statement of private information,” she said in the email.

The Taser model includes the ability to redact body camera footage, “which solves my concern for privacy,” Wallace said.

Last year, the Kodiak Daily Mirror and KMXT-FM had requested body camera footage from the police department following a physical encounter between officers and an autistic man. Officials initially denied the media requests for footage, citing an ongoing investigation. But the city eventually released video from police body cameras and other documents related to the incident following a court order.

A private investigator determined the officers had acted professionally, but he suggested a review of department policy regarding the handling of mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals as well as further training for officers in tactical communications, use of force and development of community relations.


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

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