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Police release bodycam footage from Maui wildfires

By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow

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    LAHAINA, Hawaii (KITV) — For the first time since the August wildfires ignited across the Valley Isle, the Maui Police Department released body camera footage from officers who responded to the blazes.

“From the very beginning of the 8th, you saw police officers save lives,” MPD chief John Pelletier said during a press conference Monday unveiling the footage.

Pelletier added the department decided to host Monday’s news conference to show the video because under state transparency law, Monday marked the deadline for them to release the footage.

“So for us to release all of that and to not tell this tale, would not be right,” Pelletier shared.

Other officers who also spoke at the conference agreed with Pelletier that the video demonstrates how dedicated the officers were to moving people out of harm’s way, despite public criticism.

“What is not said is of the 13 MPD officers and staff members that work and live in Lahaina, 11 of them lost everything to include family members and their homes,” MPD assistant chief Keola Tom said.

“We can’t forget our officer who lived in Kula, lost his cottage and his house burnt by the Kula fire, so to say that the MPD did not do their due diligence to save lives is false.”

After reviewing the video Pelletier admits there are some learning lessons, saying the department is considering a policy change requiring officers to activate their body cameras once they are dispatched instead of when they arrive on scene so they may capture more footage.

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