Ketchikan’s city hall on June 11, 2020 (KRBD file photo by Maria Dudzak)

City leaders in Ketchikan say they will consider adding dashcams to police cars as they craft next year’s city budget. KRBD’s Eric Stone reports.


City Council Member Mark Flora brought up dashboard-mounted camera at Thursday’s regular meeting. Ketchikan police officers are currently equipped with body cameras, but their cars don’t have a way to record video and sound.

“I can’t come up with anything that would be any rationale to not consider this. The benefits seem to be obvious,” Flora said. “If body-worn cameras are good, dashcams should be an enhancement.”

Acting Police Chief Eric Mattson said dashcams could provide additional evidence and make the department more transparent.

“We’ve been supportive of dash cams. It just sounds like the question that you have before yourselves is, how do you pay for it?” Mattson said. “There was the question of, you know, what are the priorities? Right now we can record,” Mattson said, referencing the police department’s body cameras. “Are there other priorities that we have? Certainly. But I think that would be a discussion with management (to) figure out what those are.”

Mattson says a camera system would cost upwards of $50,000 per year for the police department’s 20 vehicles. And Ketchikan’s city budget is stretched thin — Mattson says that with positions frozen and unfilled, some shifts are covered by just two officers.

Acting City Manager Lacey Simpson told the council that cost-saving measures like hiring freezes and delays to capital projects had averted a budget crisis for the time being. But she says even with federal and state pandemic aid, there’s little hope of making up more than $30 million in lost income.

“There’s no amount of revenue at this point that the city can hope to receive from outside sources to replace what we have lost in the last 18-plus months,” Simpson said.

Mayor Bob Sivertsen said the council would consider dashcams as a line item in the police department’s budget for next year. Deliberations on next year’s budget typically begin in November.

In other business, Ketchikan’s hospital is getting a new roof. Ketchikan’s City Council unanimously approved on Thursday a $2.4 million contract with Juneau-based Coogan Construction to replace the aging, leaky roof at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

The new roof will be paid for by PeaceHealth, the Catholic nonprofit that runs Ketchikan’s city-owned hospital. The city is handling project management. Coogan Construction was the only company to submit a bid.

Finally, the council recognized two outgoing city officials. Abner Hoage, the city’s departing fire chief and emergency manager, was recognized for his service leading Ketchikan’s pandemic response. He’s due to retire in mid-October.

Mayor Sivertsen also recognized City Manager Karl Amylon. Amylon retired at the end of last month after more than two decades administering city government and the publicly-owned utility.

“Through Karl’s leadership over the years, we’ve prospered immensely. And he goes out to his managers’ meetings and he talks about this little community up here — and people are in awe of what we have: 100% hydro. We have now fiber of our own. We do our own landfill business. We do our collection. A lot of communities don’t have that. We own our own power company. It’s true leadership,” Sivertsen said, adding, “I’ve never met a better manager.”

The council is set to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 to appoint an interim city manager and discuss how to go about searching for Amylon’s permanent replacement.