High-ranking DLNR officer stripped of police powers after crash reveals misconduct

Published: Sep. 25, 2019 at 10:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A high-ranking Department of Land and Natural Resources officer has been relieved of his police duties pending an investigation into a recent crash involving his state patrol car.

Lt. Michael Harken has worked at the DLNR for over three decades and most recently was the acting chief of police officers with the Oahu branch of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

But he was relieved of those duties after police cited him after a Sept. 4 accident for not having a valid driver’s license.

It’s the second time in about a year that he’s been cited for the same offense.

“It’s always a concern when law enforcement officers break the law themselves or are accused of breaking the law," said state Sen. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A description for Harken’s job classification clearly states: “A valid license to drive in the State of Hawaii is required to perform the essential functions of positions in these classes.”

Harken is the latest DLNR manager accused of misconduct while in uniform.

One high-ranking DOCARE officer, Carlton Helm, is being sued by a Hawaii Kai boater for using excessive force.

A number of other officers and managers are now under criminal investigation for using GPS jamming devices in their state vehicles.

These devices, which are illegal, can block the DLNR from knowing if officers are really at work or working at a second job while claiming to be on the clock at their state job.

“This agency is bankrupt of morals and ethics and we see it time and time again," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

A DLNR spokesman said the department is now investigating the circumstances of Harken’s accident. But he said he couldn’t comment further because it’s a personnel issue.

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