It’s been five months since Honolulu Police officially rolled out its body camera program. Since then, it’s expanded to include more officers in more places on Oahu.
Two out of the eight districts on Oahu have body cameras now. HPD still has a ways to go for a complete rollout but after that officials will be taking a hard look at the cost to run this system. Nearly 300 body cameras have already been rolled out, first in District 1 Central Honolulu, followed by District 6 Waikiki.
SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu works in District 6 and received his body camera. He says the lessons learned in District 1 helped the officers here in Waikiki.
“I think they actually had to go through the growing pains on learning about it. Learning when to turn it on, when to turn it off so getting a lot of the minor issues straightened out,” said Lutu.
When it first rolled out, we were told it would cost about $1.5 million a year just for the video storage. While many agree that body cameras are a great tool, the cost has always been an issue.
Police Commission Chair Loretta Sheehan tells us she would like to see if body cameras are absolutely necessary for the city.
“Where there are issues of trust, Ferguson, Missouri, Chicago, L.A., body cameras are a must in those areas,” said Sheehan. “Hopefully, here we haven’t reached that point. I don’t think we have. I think people generally trust the police departments throughout the islands so we’ll see.”
“The contract is for 5 years and we need to roll it out completely for the whole department and then at that point evaluate and see if it’s the amount of money that’s being spent the return on investment, said Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, “I really want the community to be able to weigh-in and say is this something that you want your officers to do or not to do.”
“At this point, we haven’t seen any videos that were used to solve a crime or to stop any type of complaint. It’s not there yet but we only have two districts who it’s been rolled out,” said Chief Ballard.
Next month, Chief Ballard says District 7, which is East Honolulu, will be getting body cameras. That’s about 150 cameras. In two years or less, all 12-hundred patrol officers will have them.