HPD chief outlines plans, challenges for body camera pilot project

Local News

Honolulu’s chief of police says officers will start testing body cameras in the early part of next year.

KHON2 first reported the pilot project on Tuesday.

Chief Louis Kealoha says details have yet to be worked out. Among the issues: when to have the cameras rolling and how to make sure the video is stored properly so it’s secure.

With the Kauai Police Department set to start using body cameras on duty in less than two weeks, we wanted to know how soon the Honolulu Police Department can start and how different would it be from how Kauai implements them.

“Currently, what we’re doing now is working on our policy and then the second thing is, we haven’t really established a start date when we’re going to roll out the use of the body cameras, but it is going to be sometime next year,” Kealoha said.

Kealoha said the pilot project will begin in the first half of the new year. As for the type of cameras HPD officers will be wearing, “it’s all in the planning, all on the table,” he said. “It can be on the glasses, it can be on the lapel, it can be on the shoulder, so we’re still deciding that.”

Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry said his officers will be wearing them on their glasses or their collar, depending on their height.

As for storing the video, KPD is using a private company, but it has far fewer officers than Honolulu.

HPD has about 2,200 police officers, so one of the big obstacles is figuring out what to do with all that video.

“We have several different options. We can go to a third party, but it can be done in house. It’s not just the body cameras we have to look at. We have to look at the staffing that we’re going to have to take to monitor all the camera use and the videos that come in,” Kealoha said.

Kealoha says the cost of providing body cameras has not been determined.

As far as changes in the police commission, Kealoha said it’s not necessary. Last week, Sen. Will Espero told KHON2 he wants to change the law to give the commission final say if an officer should be disciplined.

“What’s the sense of having the police commission recommend discipline if it doesn’t have to be followed through?” KHON2 asked.

“Our objective is to make sure all of the complaints that come in are fully investigated and that we cover all our bases. Sometimes, there’s gaps that need to be filled in,” Kealoha said.

Kealoha adds that it’s rare for the police department to not follow what the commission recommends, and it only happens when there’s new evidence discovered after the commission’s investigation.

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