New Anchorage tax would add body-cams for cops to increase transparency



The Municipality of Anchorage’s Public Safety Committee and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz are proposing a new $1.84 million special tax ordinance (AO 2020-116) to obtain body-worn cameras, in-car cameras, digital evidence management, and related technologies for the Anchorage Police Department.

The bond, to be presented to voters in April, would provide the Anchorage Police Department with equipment and software upgrades, and body cameras for all patrol officers. While not explicitly stated, the ordinance is another tool by the Assembly and Berkowitz Administration to ensure more accountability within the APD.

In July, Assembly Member Meg Zaletel introduced an ordinance to limit or restrict police use of force. Zaletel framed it as a call for more accountability, but many called it a gross overreach and overreaction, a way to appease a small but loud group of Black Lives Matter protesters.

While the Assembly and Berkowitz Administration continue to work to find ways to hold first responders accountable, the public at large has been more interested in holding its elected officials accountable for mismanagement of CARES Act relief funds and a unpopular plan to house homeless and treat drug addicts near schools and residential neighborhoods.

But now, the public will be asked to decide if body cams will improve life in Anchorage.

According to the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, 89 percent of Americans support body cams for cops, with a majority of respondents saying that the cameras will protect officers from untrue allegations. Democrats and Independents were, however, more willing to raise taxes to outfit their local police departments with body cams, while Republicans were less likely to support those taxes.

Read the Cato Report here.

As for AO 2020-116, it comes with a projected cost of $2.2 million a year. That’s where the property owners come in: Property taxes would increase by $5.32 per year on $100,000 of assessed valuation.

If passed by the Assembly, the ordinance to borrow funds for police body cams will be on the ballot April 6, 2021. 

The Assembly will take up the ordinance on Oct. 13 at its regularly scheduled meeting. The agenda can be seen at this link.


  1. I’m all for body cameras, but the price of 2.2 mill a year seems a bit steep. Maybe they have to hire more administration to monitor the union members who are watching the police officers put the cameras on…. or something like that. I might be off, but don’t we have around 400 officers in the muni. That would be $5,500 per camera per year. A quick search shows up as a camera costs a bit less than $200 each and monitoring/video storage service with the camera costs under $800 a year. Maybe they can only buy union cameras….. Then again, I never went through common core math so I had better defer to the experts:)

    • Agreed, our officers should be protected against these crazy methed up thugs, who are on uppers, downers and every narcotic, and pot procured substance available at the marijuana doc-in-the-boxes, destroying families and the lives of poor women stuck home with their stoned non-coping husbands. (and shame on you for the people who are profiting from it).
      The rest of us who work at non-profits, schools and substance abuse programs have to submit a receipt for reimbursement. If you want to improve the quality of officers technology then let them make their own technology choices. Technology needs to be upgraded every other year as new and better technology improves. Policemen are perfectly capable of looking out for their safety. You don’t see the Troopers with their hand out! Keep Covid Bureaucracy out of law enforcement.

    • I’m questioning it myself. I recently purchased a camera for less than $35 that I can use as a web cam, dash cam, go cam, etc., so not sure why a body cam would be so expensive!

    • I think the cost reflects a turn key price tag from a contractor who will do everything. Likely in house IT could implement for a fraction of the cost. It seems though the muni always goes for expensive. As for accountability, I see the body cams as holding criminals accountable as now we shall see what really happened…… it will mostly protect our dedicated law enforcement and responders.

  2. I don’t know about transparency because the police are fighting a war out there trying to defend us and themselves against thugs who don’t play fair. I think body cams is a good idea to prove that they did it right and to use the video as evidence against the perpetrators. I don’t know about a new tax for it. Remember back there was all that extra money because they couldn’t hire enough vpso for The villages? They ended up letting people fill some of those positions that actually had criminal records. So there’s a lot of that extra money and maybe cut some of the pork and use it to buy these cameras. They are a good idea but adding a new tax is a bad idea.

  3. The same vote for this BS comes as the same time we retire little Ethan’s nonsense for good. Vote No on all Judges, and come April, time to replace the Assembly as well as their garbage bonds.

  4. No! If Meg Zaletel and Ethan Berkowitz are for it, you know it’s a bad idea. Why are we blaming our wonderful police and running scared of BLM?? Those thugs want a fight and they’re gonna get it.

  5. I would rather start with forcing the mayor, assembly members and lobbyists to wear body cameras. They do more damage to our society than police.

  6. What happened to all that Gas Tax money in 2018 and Liquor Tax money in 2019. Why do we need a Chief Equity Officer. Apparently the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, the Ombudsman Office, and the Resilience Subcabinet isn’t enough payback to the unions

  7. I think the bonds for this kind of BS ought to be paid by the nanny state operatives that vote for this idiocy. How many millions are they going to saddle the property tax owners with before we get together and start to say enough is enough? The larceny has to stop.

  8. I’m all for body cameras. I believe they are a great tool. I thought our police already had cameras. The cost projection seems excessive to me. Gotta be a better way.

  9. Are they not using that alcohol tax that Anchorage voters first denied them and then had to vote on again so they could get it passed?

  10. CATO Institute is also against no-knock raids and continues to propose changes to police unions that protect bad cops. Why doesn’t the assembly talk about these issues? How about more training for cops every year, like the military does? Many of the cops I see throughout Anchorage are over weight, and I question their ability to properly use a firearm.
    Anyone who thinks giving cops more cameras leads to transparency are fools. The union allows giving out camera footage when it helps their cops against lawsuits, but they certainly don’t share ALL camera footage. Duncan Lemp’s family and local media to this day can’t get any footage regarding the cops shooting the house, from the outside, and killing Duncan during a no-knock raid at 4:30 AM.

  11. Holy moly that is outrageously expensive! Surely there is a less costly option! The muni and police department have very talented IT people, can’t they do something in-house and just get the equipment they need and implement – my guess is they are going with a high ticket turn key contractor.

    I agree that it will protect our law enforcement. Documentation would be in their favor. My husband and I are contractors and we document all of our work with a daily log/journal and photos, and even video. It has paid off over the years as when there is any question we only have to go back to the journal entries and double check photos. In our litigious culture one really needs to, sadly, cover themselves.

  12. If body cameras are such a great idea for policemen, why not double down, install the same cameras in every Anchorage School District classroom, make archival video publicly available to view and download?

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