Honolulu police to complete body camera rollout in March

HONOLULU — The Honolulu Police Department’s chief said she expects to complete the rollout of a body-worn camera program for officers by the end of March.

Chief Susan Ballard provided the update during a report on the department’s five-year plan to the Honolulu Police Commission Feb. 17, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

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The department began outfitting officers with 1,200 cameras in August 2018, including personnel in all eight patrol districts and the department’s traffic division.

“I believe that they are already shipped. So it’s a matter of logistics for us to administer, train and have them all available for those remaining units,” Deputy Chief Aaron Takasaki-Young told the police commission.

The implementation of body-worn cameras is part of an effort to make the force more transparent, joining other cities nationwide whose officers already use the cameras.

Department officials told the commission there has been a 78% distribution of the body cameras. Takasaki-Young said the cameras are still needed by personnel in the traffic division and District 4, which covers the Kaneohe, Kailua and Kahuku areas.

All of the cameras were expected to be issued by the end of 2020. But the police department said a billing discrepancy with the city’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services caused a delay.

A handful of cases of improper use of the cameras have been reported.

An annual legislative disciplinary report presented to the police commission said five officers who were disciplined in 2020 failed to activate or deactivated their body cameras and did not submit appropriate reports.

None of the officers were disciplined for misuse of the cameras.

Three officers were suspended for one day over unrelated matters, one officer was discharged following an event involving traffic fatalities and a fifth officer was suspended for slapping and kicking a person and making derogatory comments during an arrest.

Police Commission Chairwoman Shannon Alivado said the penalty for turning off or failing to activate body cameras is unclear.

“It’s hard for me to understand the big picture without getting a little bit more about how they assess the penalty,” Alivado said.

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The commission cannot change department policy, she said.

“We have the ability to review policies and request changes. But ultimately, it’s up to the department to act on it,” Alivado said.

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