Hawaii’s Police Bodycam Bill – update

YES to SB2411

UPDATE 5/5/16:

Mahalo for supporting the ACLU of Hawaii’s efforts to bring much-needed transparency to policing practices in our state!

The police body camera bill, S.B. 2411, would have set the best, most comprehensive policies of any body camera law in the nation.

Unfortunately, this bill was met with opposition from Hawaii’s police departments – who largely opposed every other bill this session designed to promote police transparency and accountability – and the bill did not make it through conference committee (despite having passed both the House and the Senate on a combined vote of 69-4).

The ACLU will continue to monitor Hawaii police practices, including use of deadly force, property seizure, and surveillance, and we will count on your support next session.

To stay in the loop on our work, or to confidentially share your story, email legislative@acluhawaii.org, or call (808) 522-5906. No story will be used without your permission.

 

 

ACLU of Hawaii opinion piece on police body cams, which was published in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on 5/6/16. It is behind a paywall, the text is here also:

Hawaii’s Legislature is on the verge of passing what would unquestionably be the best police body-camera law in the country — Senate Bill 2411 — that carefully balances the rights of civilians and law enforcement.

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, 2014, many communities — including here in Hawaii — 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 Hawaii 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.

On the other hand, if they are governed by the wrong policies, they have the potential to further erode police-public relations and to broadly violate our privacy. For example, South Carolina passed a law requiring all officers to wear body cameras; however, that same law also denies the public any right to view body camera footage. The result is that South Carolinians now have even less police transparency than they did prior to their body camera law.

Hawaii deserves better, and the Legislature has responded with a comprehensive and balanced measure: SB 2411 passed through four legislative committees without a single “no” vote, and overwhelmingly passed the state Senate and House of Representatives by a collective vote of 71-4. It is now in conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and the Senate versions.

What makes Hawaii’s police body camera bill so great? In a word: balance. We need statewide regulation to ensure that body cameras are used to increase transparency in our law enforcement, while enabling police to better fulfill their responsibilities and protect their rights, too. Lawmakers have listened carefully to the public’s (and law enforcement’s) concerns, and have weighed and balanced the many important public policy interests.

For example, how can body cameras be used to increase police transparency and accountability without violating the public’s right to privacy? How can body cameras be used to advance the interests of law enforcement as well as those of the public? How can we ensure the public has access to important body camera footage while also ensuring trivial, embarrassing videos do not end up on YouTube? SB 2411 would be the best body camera law in the nation because it does a vastly better job balancing these competing interests than any existing state law.

We know that well-balanced police body camera policies are achievable. The body camera policy adopted by the police department in Parker, Colo., a city of 50,000 residents, has been widely praised by law enforcement and civil libertarians alike, and that policy is extremely similar to SB 2411.

As currently drafted, SB 2411 would provide clarity, consistency, transparency and accountability, all while protecting individual privacy. The Legislature should pass this bill.


PRIOR CALL TO ACTION (RETIRED 5/4/16):

The ACLU of Hawaii needs your help to pass comprehensive statewide police body camera legislation. Call your lawmakers today!

Hawaii is on the verge of passing the best police body camera law in the country, and we need your help! The ACLU supports SB 2411: it 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.

Call your State Senator and Representative today and ask them to PASS SB 2411.

Giving your input takes just a few minutes and it makes a huge difference:

  • Go to www.capitol.hawaii.gov
  • Type the name of your street in the upper right corner, where it says “Find my Legislator”
  • Call both your Representative and your Senator, and ask them to PASS SB 2411
  • Let us know that you took action and we can keep you informed with the latest updates via email

For more information