All Hawaii Police Department officers with patrol duties will be outfitted with body-worn cameras by Christmas Eve, according to the department’s body camera program administrator.
Sgt. Travis Ing said about 150 officers in North and South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo and Ka‘u will start wearing the cameras on Thursday.
About 150 of the body-cams were deployed last month.
“Right now, we’re focusing on training the rest of the districts, and they’re going to launch pretty soon,” Ing said. “We’re happy with the cameras, so far. We’re pleased with the quality. It looks good.”
When the rollout is complete, about 300 officers will be wearing the Axon Body 2 cameras, which record public encounters with police in 720p high-definition video. Those wearing the cameras will be uniformed patrol, traffic enforcement and community policing officers.
Officers will activate them when they have contact with the public in a law enforcement capacity such as on traffic stops, during arrests, or any call they are assigned to respond to. They will stop the recording once they are done with that incident.
“Officers are still getting used to it, but most of them are very positive, because it can document the whole incident, and it’s a mode of transparency, as well. You can probably expect officers and the public to be better in front of a camera,” Ing said.
The cameras and cloud storage for the video are provided by the vendor, Axon, formerly known as Taser International.
The cost of the system over five years is $1.8 million, Ing said.
“Officers have received training on and will use their discretion in instances where a victim requests not to be on camera and may turn it off if asked,” the department said in a previous statement. “However, if the situation requires their taking law enforcement action, the camera will be on.”
According to Ing, the county prosecutor’s office has “requested quite a few” of the videos already taken in the three districts where the cameras are in use, and “we’ve collected it for them.”
”I don’t know the outcome of (those cases) in court, though,” Ing added.
Multiple calls to newly elected Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen weren’t returned in time for this story.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.