Maui Police Department Policy Review Governing Body Worn Cameras
Filing a request under Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), MauiTime obtained a copy of the Maui Police Department’s policy regarding its Body-worn Camera (BWC) deployment. While I was reporting our cover story from November 29, 2017 “What happened to the responsibility“, Lieutenant Gregg Okamoto, MPD information officer told me that the policy was available to the public, but only through a written request for public records.
The policy is eight pages long and provides all of the MPD rules for officers who carry the cameras.
“It is the policy of this department that officers activate their BWCs when such use is appropriate for the proper performance of their official duties and the recordings comply with this policy and the law,” said the Minister. MPD policy. But it is the very last line of the policy that is so problematic: “Officers may review their video before providing a statement following an administrative inquiry / investigation”.
For analysis of MPD policy, I sent it to Improvement, a Washington DC-based nonprofit that focuses on social justice and technology. The organization helped produce The leaders’ conferenceNovember 2017 Policy dashboard on body-worn cameras (which I discussed in our November 29 post). This scorecard assessed the policies of 75 police departments on eight accountability and social justice criteria: policy availability to the public, officer discretion, privacy, officer review, image retention, image misuse, access to images and biometric use. Although Maui PD was not included in the original analysis, Upturn’s political analyst Miranda Bogen agreed to note the MPD policy using the dashboard.
She sent her thoughts in an email on January 2:
Maui’s body-worn camera policy fails in all but two of the body-worn camera policy scorecard, noting green in only one of eight categories (Agent Discretion, where it defines events that agents should register and require agents to justify registration failures).
Maui policy appears to make no effort to ensure that body-worn cameras provide transparency or accountability, explaining instead that the purpose of cameras is only “to accurately record law enforcement actions and collect evidence for investigations and legal proceedings ”. Without specific and strong protections for civil rights, Maui’s body camera program risks doing nothing more than intensifying disproportionate police surveillance of communities.
It is particularly troubling that Maui policy allows officers to examine their body camera images before writing incident reports and making statements, even after severe use of force, including shootings involving officers. . Such unrestricted image review policies risk distorting the evidence and undermining community trust, and we believe departments should instead demand what we call “clean reports,” where officers write initial reports. before viewing the images, then, if necessary, watch the relevant video and add additional information. details to their reports. We are also disappointed that the policy provides no way for recorded people to access images of themselves, especially if they file a police misconduct complaint. (The most successful departments in this area describe a dedicated process through which registered individuals or their legal representatives can access relevant footage.)
Click on here for a PDF of the camera policy worn by the body of Maui PD.
Photo of MPD Sergeant Joy Medeiros with body camera courtesy of Maui PD