KITV 4 News has learned prosecutors and police are trying to bring criminal charges against a Honolulu police officer who posted a hospital-bed photograph of an alleged thief on his Facebook page.
The Honolulu Police Department began an internal affairs investigation after KITV 4 News notified the department of the photo Monday.
An HPD patrol officer posted the photo on his Facebook page with the caption: "See when you like steal copper." The photo showed the 40-year-old suspected copper wire thief badly burned earlier this month, in a hospital bed at Straub Hospital?s burn unit. His upper body is exposed with burns to his skin.
Sources told KITV 4 News city prosecutors and police department internal affairs detectives from HPD's Professional Standards Office are trying to figure out if there's a crime they can charge the officer with in this case.
But that's proving to be difficult. First problem: HPD does not have a social media policy. A police spokeswoman said the department is finalizing a social media policy, a task it?s been working to complete since early this year.
"HPD is among the thousands, tens of thousands of other agencies, not only law enforcement, but government, military, private sector, they try to grasp technology, social media including, and the internet,? said Chris Duque, a cyber security expert who retired from HPD where he spent nearly 30 years on the force, most of them as a detective.
"Technology moves at such a fast rate, because before the ink is dried on the printer that prints out the policy, new technology comes up that throws the previous policy out the window," Duque said.
Duque said authorities might be able to press some kind of invasion-of-privacy case against the officer who is a 12-year veteran of HPD.
"The fact that it's in a hospital room, there might be the expectation of privacy in the fact that certain areas are protected environment, like a bedroom, bathroom," Duque said.
A representative of HPD met with officials from Straub Hospital after KITV 4 News broke the story, trying to ?repair the damage,? one source said. Some police officials are worried the hospital may now require police officers to be escorted by hospital employees when they photograph patients, as police often do for use as evidence.