Today, members of the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Section were conducting enforcement of oversized vehicles and illegal tinted windows on Haleakala Highway. This operation, named Operation Recon, came to pass in response to complaint letters to the editor of the Maui News regarding oversized vehicles and vehicles with illegal tints. Operation Recon, which started on November 16, 2012, would focus on these types of violations island wide.
Around 9:20 this morning, officers conducted an officer safety traffic stop on a vehicle with illegal tints on Haleakala Highway near the intersection of the Hana Highway. The vehicle, which contained two occupants, pulled over onto the shoulder of the roadway followed by two police vehicles.
Shortly thereafter, another vehicle pulled up behind the police vehicles and the lone operator exited and approached the traffic stop. The lone operator, who was later identified as Thomas A. RUSSO, publisher of Maui Time, started to record the traffic stop with his cell phone camera. RUSSO proceeded past the police vehicles and continued walking toward the vehicle that was stopped still recording the officers and the two occupants within the vehicle. The Police report does not indicate if Russo told the officers why he was recording them – or even merely inform them of his action.
As a matter of routine police traffic stop procedures designed for officer safety, the officers advised RUSSO to stay behind the police vehicles while they conducted a controlled traffic stop investigation. Police say Russo refused to comply and continued approaching and recording the officers and the two occupants. The two occupants of the vehicle then informed the officers that they had been alarmed by RUSSO recording them.
RUSSO, according to the Police report, then compromised the officers’ safety, after failing to comply with numerous requests from the officers to move back behind the police vehicles. He was then placed under arrest. However, Police say, while the officers attempted to place RUSSO under arrest, RUSSO began to resist by pulling his arms away, however, officers were able to safely gain custody of RUSSO.
RUSSO was subsequently placed under arrest for Obstructing Government Operations, Resisting Arrest, and Harassment. His bail was set at $3,000.00. He posted bail and his court date is scheduled for December 27, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
No word on whether the traffic stop resulted in citations for the truck operator.
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