ACLU OF HAWAI‘I SENDS LETTER TO POLICE CHIEFS OFFERING GUIDANCE ON BALANCING COVID-19-RELATED MOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS WITH CIVIL LIBERTIES

Honolulu, Hawai‘i: On Friday, March 27, 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (“ACLU of Hawai‘I”) sent a letter to the four police chiefs for the state of Hawai‘i — City and County of Honolulu Chief Susan Ballard, County of Hawai‘i Chief Paul Ferreira, County of Maui Chief Tivoli Faaumu, and County of Kaua‘i Chief Todd Raybuck — offering guidance from a civil liberties perspective on the least restrictive means law enforcement can use with respect to COVID-19-related movement restrictions while ensuring that the health, safety and civil liberties of all Hawai‘i residents are protected.

The letter asks law enforcement to acknowledge the dynamics police-enforced movement restrictions may have on marginalized, historically over-policed communities, such as the houseless population, and to take that into consideration when enforcing COVID-19-related restrictions.

In addition, the letter cautions against arrests as a method of enforcement due to the risks of COVID-19 exposure for people in custody and people working in jails. It also offers cautions about the use of fines, and urges leadership to instruct officers to approach enforcement of such restrictions with the goal of facilitating long-term compliance rather than punishing non-compliance.

ACLU of Hawai‘i Smart Justice Campaign Director Monica Espitia said: “With this guidance, we hope leadership will instruct officers to perform their duties with compassion, patience and in a non-punitive manner during what is an incredibly stressful time. As more COVID-19-related movement restrictions go into effect here in Hawai‘i, it is crucial that police officers in all counties take the proper precautions to ensure that all people — especially those in communities that have been historically heavily policed — feel safe, valued and protected.”

On March 23, 2020, Governor David Ige signed a Third Supplememental Declaration, which complemented Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino’s stay-at-home orders, and ordered the entire state of Hawai‘i to stay at home and work from home.

View the letter to Honolulu Chief Susan Ballard here.

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