Nolan Espinda, former Public Safety director and longtime public servant, dies at 65
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Family members and colleagues remembered former Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda on Friday as a principled man and a dedicated public servant who spent his life trying to improve Hawaii’s corrections system.
Espinda died Thursday at the age of 65.
The Public Safety Department notified employees of Espinda’s death and offered counseling.
He was found with a gunshot wound at Kailua Beach on Thursday afternoon. First responders tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful. Sources tell Hawaii News Now they do not suspect foul play.
As former state director of Public Safety, Espinda headed the department for six years. He also served nearly 40 years as warden at numerous facilities, including Halawa and OCCC.
“Nolan was a great public servant,” said Gov. David Ige, in an interview with Hawaii News Now.
“I’m really heartbroken by the whole situation. I think he made a huge contribution.”
In a statement, Malia Espinda called her husband a man of few words and strong convictions.
“My husband, Nolan Espinda, dedicated almost 40 years of his life to public service for the State of Hawaii. Nolan was the most brilliant, visionary, and principled man I have ever known. “Just do the Right thing every time” was his mantra and he held an unwavering core value of his personal responsibility to every taxpayer in Hawaii. Nolan was a man of few words, but a man of strong actions and stronger convictions. Acting on his convictions inevitably brought resistance and criticism from some who misunderstood his purpose. With the strength of his broad shoulders, Nolan endured through all, until he could no more. We have lost a beautiful, deeply loving man who his children and I will miss forever more.”
Espinda’s tenure as DPS director was marked by controversy, including over his handling of COVID outbreaks at jails.
In 2020, he stepped down amid growing criticism of his leadership.
In addition to his wife, Espinda is survived by his three children.
This story may be updated.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.