SHOPO: Detectives, officers put investigations on hold to provide security at 2-day Ironman event

SHOPO says it’s investigating how security was handled for the IRONMAN World Championship event in Kona earlier this month.
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 5:52 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - SHOPO says it’s investigating how security was handled for the IRONMAN World Championship event in Kona earlier this month.

Among the issues the union is concerned about: Detectives and officers in various units were pulled out of their sections to provide traffic control for the event.

Some were unable to complete their case work because of the change, union officials said.

Usually, the race offers off-duty police officers a chance to make overtime. But this year, there weren’t enough officers signing up because it went from a one-day race to a two-day event, taking place on Oct. 6 and Oct. 8.

Maile Medeiros David, chair of the Hawaii County Council, said the county was given last-minute notice that the event was being extended. Hawaii Island police officers had to be assigned to work intersections “to address the public safety concerns, as well as ... the participants’ safety during this event,” David said.

The Hawaii County Police Department has 390 officers and approximately 100 of them had to be reassigned to work Ironman on one or both days. That also shifted patrol units to cover.

James “Kana” Correa, chair of SHOPO’s Hawaii Island chapter, said detectives from criminal investigations, the juvenile section, vice, narcotics and other specialized units had to be moved to assist with the race, working 12-hour shifts. Correa added that some officers “were unable to finish their investigations on time.”

About 40 of the nearly 100 assigned officers came from the Hilo area and had to make the nearly two-hour commute each way.

John McCarthy, retired Honolulu Police deputy chief, said the changes to schedules “hurts the community.”

He added it’s especially difficult to accept when it’s a private event.

Correa said officers understand they have to put cases and assignments on hold for emergencies or natural disasters, but they pointed out that Ironman is planned months in advance.

SHOPO is looking into possible union violations in the handling of the assignments. In years’ past, Ironman paid special duty officers directly.

But this year, the event sent a donation of $240,000 to the city for police overtime and other expenses.

David said the final cost has not been calculated yet but possibly exceeded that donation.

She said Ironman’s two-day format didn’t just impact the police department, but residents and businesses, too.

“There’s a lot of issues that were raised from the community during this event,” she said.

David said next year’s event is again scheduled to be held over two days.

She hopes planning and schedules are organized sooner giving everyone more time to prepare.

Hawaii News Now did reach out to officials with the IRONMAN World Championship seeking comment for this story but we have not yet heard back.