HPD Chief: Police body cameras will start rolling out this summer

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard announced Monday that the agency is slated to start using body cameras this summer.

The rollout will start with Urban Honolulu, and comes on the heels of a pilot project aimed at trying the technology and ironing out potential problems.

Honolulu is among a growing list of cities rolling out body cams to hold officers — and citizens — more accountable.

Supporters of police body cams say the footage will speed up investigations into police conduct. Ballard says that once cameras are rolled out, they will be used in everyday procedures.

The planned body cam rollout comes as the Honolulu Police Department seeks to bolster its public image — something that's been made more difficult following news of an alleged police misconduct case last month.

In that case, four officers allegedly forced a homeless man to lick a urinal in a public bathroom near Keeaumoku and Sheridan streets. HPD and the FBI are investigating the officers, who have been reassigned to desk duty.

"For this particular alleged civil rights violation, after we took a look at it, and after what has happened in the past, we've decided that it was best to ask the FBI to look into it to make sure there were no allegations of preferential treatment," Ballard told Hawaii News Now.

According to Ballard, it isn't standard for FBI to be involved in such cases.

Ballard spoke with HNN about four months after being selected to lead Hawaii's large police force in October.

She said under her tenure, she's committed to improve transparency, regardless of whether information released casts the department in a positive or negative light.

And she's pledging more changes, including to shifts, roles and even bureaus.

All that change hasn't been controversy-free. Recently, the police union called out Ballard for reassigning its president, Tenari Maafala.

Maafala has also accused Ballard of defamation.

This story may be updated.

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