Attorney general investigates use of illegal GPS jammers by DOCARE officers

Updated: Apr. 24, 2019 at 6:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating the use of illegal GPS jammers by state conservation officers.

Hawaii News Now has learned that up to 10 officers at the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are now under investigation.

At least one has stepped down while another was relieved of his police duties, sources said.

“We’re not only talking about using some inappropriate equipment but violating the state’s trust,” said state Rep. Ryan Yamane.

“These officers are supposed to be out there patrolling our oceans and our mountains.”

The DLNR declined comment, citing the pending investigation. It also refused to say whether the suspected officers are still working.

No bigger than a car cigarette lighter, the illegal devices prevent DOCARE managers from tracking the officers in their official vehicles when they’re supposed to be on the clock.

“They could be doing one of many things, out on the beach, out working second jobs, or serving as security agent for another company," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the Attorney General’s Office has subpoenaed at least one manufacturer to find out who was buying these devices to circumvent the department’s GPS system.

In the past, the DLNR used the GPS devices to investigate alleged overtime abuses by DOCARE officers.

Cox said an internal investigation in 2016 found that about a dozen officers were claiming overtime when their GPS system showed they were either at home or at another job.

“This is bad. It has permeated through the ranks for some while," said Cox.

If that’s true, Yamane said lawmakers may call for an audit or may bring in DLNR’s management for questioning.

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