HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Back in 2015, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources paid more than $72,000 to buy 30 tasers.
But four years later, none of the tasers have been deployed ― and are now gathering dust in the Land Board’s armory in Pearl City.
“This is a true waste of taxpayer money,” said state Rep. Ryan Yamane. “The equipment is basically rotting away.”
Worse yet, that inactivity resulted in many of the taser’s batteries going bad. Two years ago, the department had to spent another $25,000 to buy 150 replacement batteries.
But in a statement, the land board said the delays were partly due to defects with the tasers LED screens and partly due to delays in getting training protocols approved by the union.
“Current DOCARE leadership is committed to equipping officers with tasers as soon as possible,” the department said.
“(Unfortunately) they were caught in a series of events and delays that were beyond their control.”
Activists worry that without nonlethal weapons available, DLNR officers may resort to higher levels of violence, especially when faced with acts of civil disobedience like the Mauna Kea protests.
“That’s definitely a mistake and not good news because when you have people who aren’t trained in real peace activity and high emotions are involved, it can go bad," said Kealoha Pisciotta of the Mauna Kea Anaina Hou.
The Land Board now plans to deploy the tasers by mid-summer.