Governor taps experienced hand to head Public Safety

Ted Sakai
Ted Sakai
Jodie Maesaka-Hirata
Jodie Maesaka-Hirata

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On June 1, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, the first woman to head Hawaii's Department of Public Safety, leaves that position to become Deputy Director of Corrections.

"She sees this as a terrific opportunity to pull together years of commitment and experience in this area, and to work with her mentor," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie has appointed former director Ted Sakai to take over the reigns. He served as Public Safety Director under Ben Cayetano from 1998 to 2002.

"He sees an opportunity to perhaps move forward in corrections, in a way that maybe wasn't possible before," Abercrombie said.

"Ted is a good man. He has knowledge. He has experience. And I believe that he will be an asset to the administration," said Sen. Will Espero, who chairs the Senate's Public Safety Committee.

Sources tell Hawaii News Now Maesaka-Hirata micro-managed aspects of the department and failed to solidify a strategic plan. But Abercrombie insists he is pleased with her work.

"That's the reason that I want her to be in charge of the key elements of our Justice Reinvestment Initiative that I think are going to change the criminal justice system in Hawaii," he said.

The initiative requires pre-trial risk assessments of prisoners and increases staffing at the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

Sakai will oversee Hawaii's jails and prisons, Narcotics Enforcement, and the Sheriff's Department.

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