Hawaii’s statewide police union wants Kauai officers to turn off their body-worn cameras and put them back on the shelf, at least temporarily.

The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers filed a complaint last week with the state Labor Relations Board saying that the union should have had final say on Kauai’s body camera policy since it affects work conditions for its membership.

According to the complaint, SHOPO believes that the use of body cameras should have been a point of negotiation under its current collective bargaining agreement.

Hawaii's police union says it supports the use of body cameras. It just wants final say on how the technology is used.
Hawaii’s police union says it supports the use of body cameras. It just wants final say on how the technology is used. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2013

The union has asked the Labor Relations Board to issue a cease and desist order until those negotiations over a body cameras have been completed. Union officials are also seeking reimbursement of legal fees and other costs.

Here’s what the union had to say in its complaint:

Body-Worn Cameras constitute a condition of work, and are thus, necessarily a subject of mandatory bargaining that requires the mutual consent of both parties. The Employer’s purported camera policy requires police officers to wear the Body-Worn Cameras throughout their shift, requiring minute by minute decisions on whether to activate or not, consider privacy issues, emergencies, etc., and subjects them to disciplinary action for violations of working requirements associated with the usage of the cameras.

The policy also dictates when and where the camera is required to be used and not used; when the camera is to be turned on and off; duplication of recordings; downloading, securing and storing of recordings; where the camera is to be positioned on the officer during on-duty hours; what disclosures are to be made by an officer to a member of the public that may be the subject of a recording; whether the public can review a recording at a scene; and what types of reports are to be generated by an officer making a recording.

SHOPO’s complaint does not come as a surprise. The union has threatened for months to ask the Labor Relations Board to step in should the Kauai Police Department start using the technology without its express consent on a final policy.

Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry, however, has been undeterred. He does not believe he needs final approval from SHOPO before implementing rules for body camera use. In December, he ordered his officers to start using the technology.

The Kauai Police Department started using body cameras in December despite union protests.
The Kauai Police Department started using body cameras in December despite union protests. Kauai Police Department

Perry said in an email that Kauai County attorneys are now reviewing SHOPO’s complaint to determine how best to respond. He said he will not order his officers to shut down their camera unless he’s ordered to do so by the state.

“We’ll continue with the program until we receive directions from the Labor Board to stop,” Perry said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t happen.”

The Kauai Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in the state to use body cameras as a means to improve accountability and cut down on frivolous complaints against officers. The Honolulu Police Department as well as those on Maui and the Big Island are also considering the technology.

SHOPO officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday. Officials have said that the union supports the use of body cameras. The union’s complaint reiterated this stance.

You can read SHOPO’s complaint here:

SHOPO-Complaint (Text)

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