No HI-EMA tapes exist, state says

HONOLULU — State Rep. Gene Ward wanted Gov. David Ige to release “security tapes” from the morning of Jan. 13 when the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency issued a false missile attack alert, but a spokesman for the agency says there are no such audio or video recordings.

Ward (R-Oahu) acknowledged he was unsure whether security tapes even existed, but on Jan. 25 he issued a public statement urging Ige to release recordings of the events that day in the HI-EMA facility.

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“The people of Hawaii deserve to see the events that led to those frightful thirty-eight minutes,” Ward wrote. “For security reasons, faces can easily be blurred.”

HI-EMA issued a statewide cellphone alert Jan. 13 warning of an incoming ballistic missile, which caused public panic, and took 38 minutes to cancel the false alarm.

“Even the 7-Eleven stores have a total footage of everything that’s going on,” Ward said in an interview. “Any office of that importance, that is security-based, would have that. As for its own operations and/or a breach of security or a breach of protocol, I believe it would be a common technological part of their establishment.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser filed a formal request under the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act for video or audio recordings of events in the HI-EMA operations facility that morning, but HI-EMA spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony said no such recordings exist.

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Anthony said the security cameras at HI-EMA’s Birkhimer Tunnel are facing outward and are used to see who is approaching the facility, not to watch employees perform their duties.

While 7-Elevens and gas stations do routinely use cameras to record video, that is for security purposes and not to look at the employees, he said.