The Honolulu Police Department launched a long-awaited body camera program Monday after an initial stumble in implementing the technology in its training division.

The state’s largest police force with about 2,000 sworn officers held a press conference at HPD headquarters to announce the 30-day initiative.

The department will outfit 77 officers with body cameras, mostly those working the third watch from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the downtown patrol district, said Capt. Rade Vanic.

The Honolulu Police Department will equip 77 officers with body cameras during a pilot project. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

He said select officers in the traffic and training division will wear the cameras, made by the company Axon, formerly known as Taser.

One of the goals, Vanic said, is to reduce the number of complaints against officers, as well as encourage officers and the people they encounter to be on their best behavior since they know they’re being recorded.

Vanic said the department’s policy dictates that officers turn on their cameras for every call for service or law enforcement interaction with a member of the community.

“Our policy doesn’t require that our officer inform the person that they are being recorded, however, when the camera is recording there will be lights on the camera that show that they are being recorded,” Vanic said.

“But it’s safe to say that if you see an officer and you’re interacting with them and they have a camera on them, you’re being recorded.”

Once the pilot program is complete, the department will analyze whether it will move forward with purchasing more equipment and making body cameras part of an officer’s daily routine.

HPD displayed the playback equipment that the camera connects to. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Vanic said the department has yet to determine how much converting to ongoing body camera use will cost, but said that it would likely require securing more funding, especially considering the high cost of storing the data.

“To sustain a program like this we need to have a substantial amount of funding each and every year (so) that we continue this program,” Vanic said.

This is the second time HPD has tried to launch a pilot program for body cameras.

Vanic said a previous pilot in September with the company WatchGuard ran into some problems with uploading footage, data storage and file sharing.

He said both WatchGuard and Axon have provided the department with the equipment free of charge for pilot programs.

About the Author