Embattled Public Safety director promises no retaliation against staff

Nolan Espinda participates in a confirmation hearing at the Hawaii State Capitol in April 2019.
Nolan Espinda participates in a confirmation hearing at the Hawaii State Capitol in April 2019.
Published: Apr. 22, 2019 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The embattled head of Hawaii’s Public Safety Department on Monday promised his employees he won’t retaliate against them for criticizing him.

Nolan Espinda is struggling to win Senate confirmation for a second term.

He’s faced tough questions about a riot at Maui jail, fatal shootings involving Public Safety officers and a number of management issues.

In an unusual letter to all Public Safety employees Monday, he acknowledged much of the criticism is coming from his own employees who fear retaliation.

The letter promises no employee who criticizes leadership or complains about working conditions will be disciplined for speaking out.

“While I am saddened that some employees have expressed fear of retaliation, I want to assure everyone that I have not, and will not, retaliate against anyone who has submitted testimony in opposition to my reconfirmation,” Espinda wrote.

He also made specific reference to employees who said they feared retaliation after reporting concerns over working conditions at Maui Community Correctional Center.

“I can’t imagine that anyone could think of retaliating against these dedicated people, who have just endured personal danger in restoring order and security to the heavily damaged facility, while insuring the safety of inmates and their fellow employees,” the letter said.

After two hearings, the Senate Public Safety Committee recommended he not be confirmed. A final vote of the full Senate has not been scheduled, but is expected later in the week.

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