SHOPO says Hawaii Island Police need body cameras, department agrees; though funding an issue

Local News

In October, Honolulu Police released body camera footage of the tense moments leading up to a deadly officer-involved shooting of a 39-year-old man, after he appears to lunge at an officer with garden shears.

While only officers in Downtown and Chinatown had cameras, Chief Susan Ballard vowed to outfit Waikiki officers next.

SHOPO president Malcolm Lutu tells me police in Waikiki are adjusting to the new accessory.

“Like anything new, they have to wear it and get more comfortable with it,” said Lutu.  

Kauai Police and Maui Police have outfitted their officers with cameras. Hawaii Island Police remains the only department without.  

“If anybody, the Big Island should carry these cameras to protect our officers out there.”

Lutu says mandatory home evacuations from the recent lava eruption caused hostility towards police officers.

“They just need help. If the cameras were there, maybe it’ll stop people from reacting to our officers,” he said.

Last week, police shot and killed a 30 year-old woman after she allegedly grabbed a rifle and refused to put it down.

A spokesman said its annual operating budget is 67 million dollars, and the cost of bringing body cameras to the Big Island will be at half a million dollars. Hawaii Island police say they can’t afford it.

“Every county is responsible to put money aside for this for these cameras. I hope the Big Island can find some funding for this, if it will help them,” said Lutu.

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