Body cameras = law enforcement transparency. Let us continue to keep them accountable. Act now!

The ACLU of Hawai‘i needs your help to pass comprehensive statewide police body camera legislation. We’re asking you to submit testimony in support of S.B. 421, S.D. 1, a bill creating detailed and transparent policies regarding the use of police body-worn cameras and public disclosure of footage.

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, 2014, many communities — including here in Hawai‘i — have witnessed a string of deaths involving unarmed people at the hands of police. The names and locations of these tragedies invoke powerful feelings of outrage and sadness.

Eric Garner of Staten Island, N.Y. Walter Scott of North Charleston, S.C. Freddy Gray of Baltimore, Md. And there was Sheldon Haleck, who died on March 16, 2015, in front of ‘Iolani Palace.

These incidents — many of which were brought to light after being caught on camera — sparked national calls for a quick and tangible response. It was upon that basis that a national movement toward equipping police officers with wearable body cameras began.

To be sure, the complex problems affecting policing and race relations in Hawai‘i and nationwide will not be solved by pinning a small camera to an officer’s uniform. However, police body cameras do have the potential to move us in the right direction. With a strong policy framework, police body cameras offer improved police transparency and accountability and can reduce adverse incidents.

Thanks to your support, a similar bill came very close to passing in 2016 after it sailed through both houses of the state legislature, but died at the last minute in conference committee. With your continued support this session, we aim to propel this bill to the Governor’s desk.

Please note that this is a decision making meeting only, no oral testimony will be accepted. Are you a first time user? Don’t worry; find the simple step-by-step instructions here: http://lrbhawaii.org/par/pub/howtotest.pdf. Below is sample testimony. You can also find the hearing notice here: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_JDL-WAM_02-28-17-1_.HTM.

For questions, you can reach me at 808-522-5905 or legislative@acluhawaii.org.

The ACLU of Hawai‘i appreciates your support. Together, let us keep fighting the good fight!

-Mandy

 
Feel free to copy and paste from the testimony below:

SENATE BILL 421, S.D.  1 (testimony due 2/27/17 at 9:50 a.m. HST)

Dear Chair Keith-Agaran, Chair Tokuda, Members of the Committees:

I write in strong support of S.B. 421, S.D. 1, which promotes government transparency while protecting individual privacy. Cameras help ensure that officers who break the law are held accountable, and they protect police by exonerating officers wrongfully accused of misconduct.

I support S.B. 421, S.D. 1, and respectfully ask that the Committees approve this measure.