HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After sitting in storage for nearly a year-and-a-half, 350 new nine-millimeter pistols and matching holsters that were intended for use by Hawaii's sheriffs have been packed up and are on their way back to Smith & Wesson in Massachusetts.
"There is a process that is in place that wasn't followed and I think maybe done in good intentions, but it was not properly procured," Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, state Department of Public Safety director, said.
Under an even-swap agreement, sheriffs received the weapons package valued at $185,500 in exchange for their old guns and some excess inventory. The firearms deal was brokered in 2010 under the previous administration.
"When we came into office, myself and a deputy for law enforcement, it was brought to our attention," Maesaka-Hirata said. "We immediately began an investigation in working with the Attorney General's office."
Since state procurement laws may have been violated, public safety officials are having to bite to bullet and return the goods. Hawaii taxpayers will foot the $8,000 shipping cost.
"It's not a big hit when you're looking at their budget of over $200 million. However, it is a waste of tax dollars that did not have to happen if things were done properly," Sen. Will Espero, state Senate public safety committee chair (D), said. "If you have multiple problems like this, eventually they all add up."
Officials say Smith & Wesson has agreed to waive the re-stocking fees.
"We felt that it was a fair deal and also that we wanted to ensure that if we needed to obtain weapons again that there would, of course, be opportunities to work with Smith & Wesson and ensure that the next deal is done correctly," Maesaka-Hirata said.
The internal investigation into the controversial gun deal continues.
"Nobody actually came out a winner in all of this because items that the department could actually use had to be sent back and Smith & Wesson had to re-stock them," Maesaka-Hirata said.