By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Honolulu's Harbor Police, who have been working without guns, patrol vehicles, and uniforms since June, are expected to get their crime fighting tools back within the next few weeks.
All 17 active officers had use their firearms, uniforms, and vehicles taken away because the Department of Transportation had not established adequate policies and procedures for its Harbor Police force.
"It came to our attention while these officers were going through their re-certification for weapons … that the proper procedures and policies were not in place. When this law enforcement unit was set up over ten years ago someone didn't do their work. It was lacking signatures. It was lacking some key policies, procedures. It just was very incomplete," said DOT spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.
The state worried that without proper policies and procedures it could be vulnerable to lawsuits ... especially if an officer fired his gun.
The officers have continued to patrol the harbor, but because they are not in official vehicles or uniform, they are difficult to spot.
There is other security in Honolulu Harbor including The Coast Guard, private security companies at all piers, and since September 13 a deputy sheriff has used a Harbor Police car to patrol the harbor overnight.
"When they came to us asking for assistance, the first thing we did was see if they had any policies - and of course they we discovered they didn't. So we supplied some of our policies which they could use as drafts, as models," said Sheriff Shawn Tsuha.
The officers have now been trained on the new policies and procedures. Most of them have been re-certified with their weapons. The state has a couple more hurdles to clear, but expects that by the end of the first week in October all of the officers will be back in their vehicles, in uniform and armed.
The state maintains security at the harbor has not been compromised.
"No, I don't think it has really compromised the security at the harbor at this point. Were it to keep going on for any length of time, that would be a different answer," Tsuha added.