Drivers stuck in gridlock, then cited during police operation - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Drivers stuck in gridlock, then cited during police operation

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many drivers who spent hours stuck in traffic admit, they started using their cell phones. Some had to make arrangements to have children picked up from school, others had to notify family members of the situation. None, expected to be cited by police for doing so, not on Tuesday, one of the worst traffic days on Oahu in years. 

"My son needed to be picked up, my husband is in the military and was in the field, so he's not available at all," says Tiffani Breeden, who had already spent about three hours in traffic.

"This cop was walking the highway and motioned for all these cars to move into the gas station parking lot, and they had an assembly line of cops giving tickets," says Breeden.

Breeden was one of 65 drivers to get a $290 ticket for using a cell phone behind the wheel.

Honolulu Police said officers were issuing the citations at that intersection between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. as part of a pre-planned operation. An operation that started before the gridlock from the broken zip mobile.

"At the time that they were doing that, they weren't aware of the traffic problem. When they were notified, at that point, they ceased enforcement action," says HPD Assistant Chief Clayton Kau.

Breeden says she can't understand how HPD officers didn't know, "I knew about it at noon, in my office in Honolulu, and I'm not even a cop patrolling the streets how are they unaware of street conditions?"

Breeden was also shocked to see that the officer marked traffic as being "medium" at the time, when clearly, it was not.

The Captain of the Traffic Division apologized several times at a press conference Wednesday.  Captain Darren Izumo admits that he could have stopped the operation sooner. It didn't shut down until after 5 o'clock.

"I'll take the hit for that, in that we were concentrating on getting the westbound traffic flowing so I failed to cancel that operation," says Izumo.

HPD has canceled all operations for now ... until the traffic issues and the zip mobiles are back on track.

Tiffani Breeden says she will challenge the ticket in court and hopes that a judge will understand that Tuesday's traffic situation required some drivers to take out their cell phones, even if it's not usually allowed.

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