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State’s hiring, promotions process faces scrutiny following top trainer’s arrest

State lawmakers are calling for more scrutiny of how government employees are hiring following the arrest of the head of training at at PSD.
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:22 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers are calling for more scrutiny of how government employees are hiring following the arrest of the head of training at the Public Safety Department.

Marte Martinez has been promoted several times since she was hired in 2014, eventually reaching the position of top trainer for DPS.

That put her in charge of training thousands of deputy sheriffs and corrections officers.

But on Thursday morning, Martinez was arrested by the state Attorney General’s office for allegedly falsifying college transcripts and lying about her education and experience to get those promotions.

Questions about her qualification go back years.

When she was questioned about her resume at a state Labor Board hearing in 2019, authorities said she lied under oath.

State Sen. Clarence Nishihara said more needs to be done to verify the qualifications of people seeking to rise in rank. He said DPS skirted the process before promoting Martinez.

“There were a lot of red flags but when I pointed it out, the department wasn’t interested in following up,” Nishihara said.

Nishihara did publicly question Martinez’s background in 2019 ahead of Nolan Espinda’s re-confirmation as DPS director.

State Sen. Karl Rhoads did too, but Espinda got enough votes to continue to lead DPS.

Rhoads said stricter background searches cannot be done on all employees seeking promotions but should be for those seeking positions of authority.

“Certainly the higher the rank that you’re trying to obtain, you should get scrubbed more thoroughly,” Rhoads said.

When this story was originally published on April 8, Department of Human Resources spokesman Ryker Wada said his agency does background and credentials checks for all incoming employees.

But he said the agency does not conduct checks for employees seeking promotions.

DHRD subsequently corrected the statements, saying that it was responsible for Martinez’ initial hiring clearance and for several subsequent clearances when she got promotions.

Public Safety also conducted clearances for several promotions she received.

Despite the criminal investigation that was launched following the outcry by lawmakers, Martinez was not placed on restricted duty and continued training law enforcement and prison guards.

Martinez’s attorney, Myles Breiner, said she is now on paid administrative leave.

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