Kauai police say body cam footage valuable in clearing officers of misconduct allegations

Published: Apr. 13, 2017 at 9:48 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 14, 2017 at 9:58 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai police body cam video offers a different perspective of a recent protest in Wainiha that resulted in arrests.

The demonstrators, who were claiming to be protecting a sacred Hawaiian burial site, posted video to social media with allegations of police brutality.

But Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry says the department's footage shows that his officers handled themselves professionally.

"They (the protesters) were just, in my opinion, harassing and antagonizing the officers. Kind of egging them on to do something. They're putting the camera in our face, but now they understand that we're filming them too," Perry said.

Demonstrators have not yet returned phone calls for comment.

The Kauai Police Department is the only Hawaii department to have widely adopted police body cams so far.

And Perry said the Wainiha case is among several in which body cams have played a role in clearing officers of allegations of misconduct.

"They understand right now that it not only protects the public and the recording of information, it also protects them against false allegations," Perry said.

Meanwhile, proposals requiring the use of police body cameras statewide can't seem to make it out of the state Legislature.

Advocates of cameras say the biggest challenge is figuring out how to better hold police accountable without violating someone's right to privacy.

"Police may enter into someone's home and of course people have an expectation of privacy in their home. Or it may be a situation where they're interviewing witnesses and there are concerns about exposing that person to retaliation," said Brian Black, president and executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center.

Maui and Big Island police have tested body cameras on officers, but there has been no implementation yet.

The Honolulu Police Department says it's hoping to launch its pilot program by the end of the year.

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