Tab for keeping police, other first responders at TMT protest at $3.5M

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Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 4:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The tab for keeping police and other first responders at the Thirty Meter Telescope protest on Mauna Kea are now about $3.5 million, new figures show.

Hawaii County spent nearly $3.3 million on its own Mauna Kea-related law enforcement salaries, civil defense, fire, supplies and overtime, according to figures provided to Hawaii News Now and the Hawaii County Council on Tuesday.

That figure doesn’t include costs incurred by other county police departments or by the state.

So far, the Honolulu Police Department has said it cost $162,000 to send its officers to the protest last month. The funds, which the state has said it will reimburse, cover overtime, airfare and shipping.

Maui County, meanwhile, has said it cost $68,000 to send officers to the protest.

Hawaii county council member Sue Lee Loy called the latest number 'eye popping."

She told Hawaii News Now she’s trying to drill down on the costs.

“It’s as clear as mud,” she said.

Multiple agencies have said the State Attorney General will reimburse all costs for Mauna Kea, but Maui’s police chief Tivoli Faaumu had previously told the Maui County Council if the AG can’t pay, then Hawaii County will be ultimately be responsible.

Hawaii county finance director Deanna Sako told council members that the county is sending bills to the state, but a memorandum of agreement between the state and Hawaii county is still being worked on.

Council members say the questions leave them concerned.

“We have spent 3 and a half million dollars providing security on the mountain,” said Hawaii county council member Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder.

He told Hawaii News Now after the council meeting the figures are ‘crazy.’

“For a project that is not county related, has no solid agreement for reimbursal by the state and that is going to increase steadily, I can’t believe it,” he added.

[Read more: Maui police chief defends decision to send officers to Mauna Kea]

The estimates come as the TMT protest continues into its second month with no end in sight. Hundreds of protesters are blocking the Mauna Kea Access Road, the only access point to the summit.

Construction crews need to use the road to ascend to the planned site for TMT.

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