The 59 deputy sheriffs assigned to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport are now under the control of the Transportation Department, and it could be just the beginning of the DOT's law enforcement plans.
Sources say that the deputy sheriffs and the Harbor Police division, made up of 19 officers, will combine so DOT can create a police force in charge of Honolulu's airport and state ports.
The force will eventually have a new name, new look and uniforms, and could expand to include the state highways.
Hawaii News Now was there as dozens of deputy sheriffs got the news Thursday morning in a meeting with DOT leaders and the state director of the Department of Public Safety. As part of a 2002 agreement between the two agencies, DPS provided their deputies for the airport, but earlier this year DPS was notified that DOT wanted to end the agreement to instead, start it's own law enforcement unit.
"After 9/11, a lot of things changed with security and it's been evolving since that time," said Transportation Department spokesman Tim Sakahara, "Some changes need to be made to the outdated agreement."
DOT still needs to secure funding from the legislature, but don't anticipate resistance since it would be similar to current budgets.
"Over the next year or so we will be going over the process and working with the state legislature to try to refine the process, come up with the procedures and iron out the details," Sakahara said.