Bill would limit privacy for disciplined police officers

Bill would limit privacy for disciplined police officers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill being heard by the Hawaii state legislature would require police departments on all islands to disclose the identities of officers who have been fired or disciplined multiple times.

Senate Bill 424 mandates that Hawaii police chiefs reveal to the legislature the identities of officers who are either discharged or suspended twice within a five year span.

Current laws typically prevent such disclosure, and officers are typically referred to only by numbers in the annual reports that are given to the legislature. But a recent state Supreme Court ruling requires that the disciplinary actions to be made public if the public's interest outweighs the officers privacy rights, said Brian Black of the Civil Beat Law Center.

"Whether this will do anything is really questionable. The existing law seems to be more expansive than most people thought in the first place," Black said.

The police officer union also opposed the bill saying the disciplinary records of officers were originally exempted from disclosure due to the dangerous nature of the officers' jobs.

"Most government employees aren't put in situations daily to go into robberies in progress with shotguns or go to a fray with a hundred people with baseball bats." said Barbara Wong of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, or SHOPO.

The disclosure law would also make it easier for legislators who review the report to determine whether officers had been involved in multiple incidents that required discipline.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.