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APEC security cameras set for final City Council vote

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 7:16 p.m. HST, Oct 20, 2011

A City Council committee has put its stamp of approval on the installation of 34 security cameras across key sections of Oahu in preparation for the arrival of 21 world leaders and their entourages for this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative summit in Waikiki in November.

In voting 4-1 Tuesday to approve the resolution, members of the Council's Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee raised reservations about how the cameras might be an imposition on people's civil liberties. But they also said the safety of APEC participants and local residents supersedes privacy concerns.

Police officials said the cameras are not intended to discourage public protests.

"We want to make sure that people understand that the Police Department respects everybody's right to peacefully demonstrate and makes no distinction as to the purpose, message or any intent of any group," Deputy Chief Marie McCauley said.

Police Maj. Clayton Kau said the cameras will be used to manage traffic, supplement security measures and "provide situational awareness."

"If we see anything violent going on, then we will send officers to that location," McCauley said. "If we see a traffic jam, we will re-route a motorcade."

The new cameras will augment 26 existing security cameras in Chinatown and six others in Waikiki.

Council members requested, and were given Tuesday, a list of where the 34 cameras will be located.

The cameras would not record "unless there was a major event," McCauley said.

After the summit, all but four of the cameras are to be turned over to the city Department of Transportation Services and will be used primarily for traffic monitoring.

Councilman Nestor Garcia, who cast the only "no" vote, said police could not show that surveillance cameras were used, or used effectively, at the most recent APEC conferences in Yokohama, Japan; Singapore; Thailand; and Lima, Peru.

"I'm concerned about the chilling effect that this would have on the civil rights that are going to be exercised by the people who no doubt will be protesting for whatever reason," Garcia said.

Councilman Breene Harimoto said he empathizes with those concerned about the rights of protesters. "The idea of civil rights is great, and we need to protect that," he said. "But on the other hand, the risk of public safety is real, and I believe that HPD needs these tools to ensure the safety of Honolulu residents as well as the APEC participants."

The resolution goes for a final vote before the full Council Oct. 5.

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