Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Musings: KPD Tries Body Cams

The Kauai Police Department has conducted a pilot project on the use of body cameras by patrol officers, with positive — even surprising — results.

Police Chief Darryl Perry said the video recordings allowed officers to more accurately document events as they wrote up their police reports. And that ostensibly will bolster prosecution efforts.

The cameras also proved useful in helping the police commission determine the validity of a complaint that an arrested man filed against an officer, alleging serious violations of the department's Standards of Conduct. 

“Because he was wearing a body camera, we were able to review the entire event from beginning to end,” the chief wrote in an email. “It revealed that the officer acted appropriately, and that the allegations were fictitious to detract from his arrest for drugs and seizure of his vehicle. The officer was exonerated.”

The cameras also had another, unexpected result: “It’s funny how people’s attitude change and they become more civil when they realize that they too are being recorded,” the chief wrote.

Now that alone makes the body cams worthwhile in an era when citizens and activists are quick to use their cell phones to record or photograph demonstrations and other events involving police.

The police union, SHOPO, has opposed use of body cameras, contending that all the bugs haven't been worked out of the technology and that officers should consent to wearing them. However, the top brass feels that it's management's right to use the equipment because it doesn’t change the officers’ working conditions.

KPD officials learned about the technology two years ago while attending the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference. Chief Perry said he saw it as “the wave of the future,” and the department began researching the equipment. KPD decided to move forward with a pilot program long before shooting incidents on the mainland prompted Obama's request for $263 million to buy 50,000 police body cameras.

We also have our policy in place that follows national standards,” the Chief wrote.

The project was conducted from Sept. 27 to Oct. 27, 2014. Five uniformed patrol officers on different shifts (10 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.) were outfitted with Taser’s Axon Flex Body Worn Camera, capturing 60 gigabytes of video data that was stored on, a secured cloud platform.

Councilman Gary Hooser, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, asked the chief to make a presentation at today's meeting on “purchasing and using 'body cams' or similar recording technology. This briefing shall include the costs and availability of such technology, and the positive and negative impacts of KPD’s use of such technology.”

Hooser, who is trying to make the most of his tepid committee assignment by seizing on yet another issue of national interest, is apparently unaware of the pilot program, though the information was presented to the police commission. Hooser also invited Prosecutor Justin Kollar, Police Commission Chair Charlie Iona and a SHOPO representative to attend “to present their thoughts, or respond as they may so desire.”

Body cameras might have been useful in sorting out the facts in the case of Dickie Louis, who was shot by police on his rooftop as they attempted to serve a warrant for his arrest. The case recently settled for a small sum. In its coverage of the settlement, which was based on a release distributed by attorney Myles Breiner, who represents Louis's family, Hawaii News Now reported that Chief Perry “testified [in a deposition] that he probably would have handled the situation differently.”

That broadcast prompted the Chief to issue this statement:

There are rumors going around that I did not support the actions of Sergeant [Chris] Calio with regard to the shooting involving Mr. Louis. These assumptions and interpretations from the news broadcast are wrong. And, nothing could be further from the truth. In my deposition I strongly asserted and supported Sergeant Calio stating that he acted appropriately and in accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes and departmental policies and procedures.  Even through hours of questioning, I stood my ground because it was the truth.  The confusion is with Hawaii News Now’s reporting.  My statement that the “results would have been different” related directly to the command structure and the sequence of events that occurred prior; which left KPD without proper oversight.

As you may recall, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. had suspended Perry and his assistant chiefs, and acting Chief Michael Contrades was at FBI training school, leaving lower-ranking officers in charge.

But as a friend observed, the real tragedy of this case is how Dickie Louis was yet another casualty in the war on drugs. Dickie was a meth addict who stole some koa and was charged with felonies. He got an inexperienced court-appointed attorney who predictably lost his case, and he was scared to show for sentencing. So 40 cops descended on his house to serve the warrant, and a 68-year-old-grandpa ended up dead.

All for what, exactly?

Though it was good to read Rep. Derek Kawakami's comments regarding the serious problem of drug abuse, Drug Court isn't the only or best answer. We need more options for helping addicts before they get involved in the criminal justice system. 

I hope Arthur Brun and others who are interested in this critical issue will find financial support for innovative substance abuse treatment centers. Surely, if the state can kick down money to repave Mana Raceway and build a Filipino Cultural Center, it can find the dough to assist the legions in Hawaii who need help getting off the shit.


Anonymous said...

Way to go Chief Perry

Anonymous said...

Love to see videos of our families in domestic disputes.

Anonymous said...

Your friends’ observation that 40 cops descended to serve a 68-year-old-grandpa/meth addict with a warrant is over simplified and inaccurate. Mr. Louis was a meth addict with a lengthy criminal record, who threatened an officer hours into a standoff. KPD did not send 40 officers to serve a 62 year old (not 68 as your post reported) with a warrant. They sent several officers to execute a warrant when Mr. Louis barricaded himself in his house. The fact that he barricaded himself with a female, and was a meth addict known to possess fire arms (undoubtedly a dangerous combination) resulted in KPD having to disperse additional officers. He resisted arrest which is never a good idea and also illegal, and was shot during a standoff. –The County of Kauai settled on undisclosed terms, which they always do because the cost of going to trial to defend employees, even when they’re in the right, costs more than settling. We’ve seen it time and time again. Unfortunately this often gives people the impression that the County or KPD are admitting guilt or responsibility when that is not necessarily the case.

You are right though, we do need a center to treat substance abuse here on Kauai. –Part of the problem I hear is no one wants one in their neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"Dickie was a meth addict who stole some koa and was charged with felonies. He got an inexperienced court-appointed attorney who predictably lost his case, and he was scared to show for sentencing."

Are you serious?

He broke into the Coco Palms and stole four giant antique koa doors valued at $50,000 each. They destroyed walls and built a ramp to carry them out. It was a planned burglery of a high value asset. He was caught dead to rights and even though you try desperately to minimize it, you admit he was a drug addict who got caught stealing, although giant antique koa doors valued at $50,000 each is hardly "some koa."

Someone like that is SUPPOSED to be found guilty.

Then he didn't show up for sentencing. He had previous guns and weapons charges and 32 prior arrests.

Here's a actual news story to refresh your memory.

Anonymous said...

Government was clearly wrong in the Louis shooting but the immunities are so strong, almost insurmountable these post-Guantanamo days, that it had to settle.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 4:43p.m. - are you serious? do you even know what the details of the case are? the county couldn't report them during the investigation and the settlement was confidential. -so since they weren't published in the newspaper, skeptics and conspiracy theorists can assume whatever they want. no doubt his death (or any death for that matter) was unfortunate, but unless you were there, you don't know what happened (and can't say the govt. was clearly in the wrong) -all most people know are assumptions that have been put forth and what his families attorney has spouted in the press. that's all one sided

Anonymous said...

Was the officer's camera ON when he ran over the 19 yr male on the west side of Kauai?

The video could be used as evidence.

Did the dispatcher give the wrong information? Was the officer speeding to the scene? Does KPD have a protocol when responding to an accident? Was those protocols followed? Was the officer talking on his cell phone? Will KPD release the video?

Anonymous said...

11:35. All the police aren't wearing body cams. It was a one month project.

Anonymous said...

Will OPA charge the driver with negligent homicide, like they do in other cases or does he get a pass for wearing a uniform?

Anonymous said...

@January 7, 2015 at 4:20 PM:
Mr Louis couldn't have stolen koa doors from the Coco Palms.

The doors were stolen one year AFTER Mr. Louis was killed.


Anonymous said...

How convenient.

Anonymous said...

It was downed koa in Kokee

Anonymous said...

KPD is thought and trained to lie in their reports. Even when found guilty by the police commission and a retired KPD police chief that is now an investigator for the commission, KPD will get out of the crime.

The police commission and the fake internal affairs officer in KPD have no authority to punish officers who committ crimes.

Judges and Lawyers are bought and paid for. Valenciano will suppress evidence and witnesses even when he approves witnesses. Public Defenders will commit criminal acts and violate the bill of rights under the United States constitutional rights to secure wrongful and malicious prosecution.

The whole judicial system on Kauai is a joke. Remember POHAKU!!! Nothing but Corruption with these syndicate slaves in charge.

irk said...

the main thing that the family wanted from the settlement was not the money. they wanted the names of the shooting officers to be made public. Chris Calio, Henry Barriga and Sherwin Perez

Anonymous said...

I believe that 2 guys are national guard adrenaline junkies that disregarded department policies and procedures trying to be a HERO.

Those chump weekend wanna be warriors aren't in the desert. Fools!

Anonymous said...

The whole county is corrupt.