WAILUKU » The Maui Police Department is taking a monthlong look at using cameras worn by officers.
Ten officers volunteered to use the cameras that fit on uniforms or sunglasses in an experiment that began April 6, said Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu. A body camera program likely would be "more positive than negative," he said.
"I know the statistics show a decrease in complaints against police officers because they had modified their behavior and everything is recorded," Faaumu said. "A lot of officers, if you know your actions are being recorded, then you’re being mindful all the time."
A vendor, Taser International, loaned the cameras to the department at no cost, the Maui News reported. The Axon Body camera clips to the front of a uniform and provides a 130-degree view. The Axon Flex camera can be clipped to sunglasses or a uniform collar or lapel. It offers a 75-degree view.
After the testing, officers will provide recommendations, Faaumu said.
Police consulted with the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union, the county prosecutor’s office and corporation counsel to provide guidelines for camera use, including when to turn them on and off.
"Everything recorded has to be downloaded and stored," Faaumu said. "Anything they record in the field is going to be kept as evidence."
At the end of their shifts, officers upload digital evidence and recharge the device.
"The operation is so simple, it doesn’t take much training," said Sgt. Joy Medeiros, who helped initiate the pilot program.
"It’s a tool, just like any other tool on our belt," Medeiros said. "It increases transparency of our department. We’re not monitoring police officers. It’s an objective view of any situation."
The cameras carry a list price of $399 and $599, but the largest expense is for data storage, Faaumu said. Up to 28 officers at a time patrol in Wailuku, Lahaina, Kihei, Molokai, Lanai and Hana.
"We have to store all that data around the clock," he said. "From what departments in the Mainland are going through, the biggest concern is storing the data."