KAILUA-KONA >> The Hawaii Police Department says it is moving forward with plans for its officers to begin wearing body cameras.
The department has already completed a pilot program and is looking into purchasing the devices, West Hawaii Today reported Monday (http://bit.ly/1O21Wxx).
The initial cost of the cameras was estimated at $612,000 to outfit the department’s 432 officers. Maj. Samuel Thomas said the department will seek funding through governmental sources and grants “when we get to the point of being able to run the program in a manner that will befit the department and the community it serves.”
The two main options considered for the devices when it comes to recording are full-time recording, which would capture every interaction the officer has with the public, and having the officer control when the camera is turned on and off.
Thomas said that implementing a camera program could raise privacy questions as to how the recordings are being used.
“There have reportedly been jurisdictions where people have opined that all video is public record and thus anyone could come and request any and all video,” he said. “The problem is that you would need to create a new section of employees to retrieve and redact the video to ensure no one’s privacy interests are compromised and to meet statutory timeline requirements for producing such requested material.”
Mandy Findlay, advocacy coordinator of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said in an email that the cameras could serve as a great benefit to the public.
“Police body cameras, if used properly, can be a valuable tool to promote transparency in police conduct. The ACLU of Hawaii supports policies that implement safeguards to ensure that body cameras are not being used for inappropriate purposes (such as scanning the homes of innocent people for signs of unlawful conduct, or identifying anonymous crime reporters or victims),” Findlay wrote.
The Kauai Police Department was expected to start using body cameras this week, making the department the first in the state to outfit its officers with the devices.
Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com