Alaska State Troopers begin limited use of body cameras

As the United States demands more law enforcement accountability, the Alaska State Troopers have begun to use body cameras in a limited capacity.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 10:14 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As the United States demands more law enforcement accountability, the Alaska State Troopers have begun to use body cameras in a limited capacity.

After receiving funds for the program, Alaska’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) initiated the limited use of body mounted cameras for law enforcement officers. As of right now, around 30 officers in different parts of Alaska have been equipped with the latest tool.

“The Motorola V300 will be the camera that we will be using,” said Col. Mo Hughes, an Alaska State Trooper. “One of the features that department has incorporated is, that particular camera works well with our camera system that’s in our motor vehicles.” Both the car and body camera’s will upload recorded footage to a cloud service storage system. But due to a need to connect to that cloud service, the DPS only deployed a small amount of the body camera’s as they work out any issues that might exist related to weather or working in remote communities.

Col. Hughes spoke positively about the additional cameras stating the many benefits that they can provide. “It all has potential to be used as evidence in a case and also maybe layout the groundwork of what the trooper or law enforcement officer saw at the seen or whatever they were dealing with at the time,” said Hughes.

The footage will also provide commanders and attorneys more clarity of a situation which can be distorted in the memories of officers engaged in high adrenaline situations. Hughes said that the ability to use that footage can also strengthen trust between the public and law enforcement. “In some cases officers are being accused of things that they have done. In a lot of cases this video will exonerate or show what the officer was doing at the time,” Hughes said.

Some instances of distrust in other parts of country however have resulted from officers equipped with cameras, turning them off. Hughes said that the policy that’s been developed by the DPS addresses that issue. While officers are expected to always have a camera and always have it on, they must make sure the camera is recording while engaging in law enforcement duties. The only time they are allowed to turn the camera off is when they are speaking with another officer or when they are speaking with an attorney.

Another part of the program Hughes spoke about in relation to building trust with the public was the ability for anyone to request footage from the cloud. The public will be able to request that footage by visiting the DPS website.

When the rest of the DPS officers receive their cameras, which is expected to happen by the end of 2023, the individual officers will have some leeway regarding the location of their camera, but it is expected that they will be required to place it somewhere on the front of their protective vests.