$16M police substation meant to serve West Oahu has just one officer and sits mostly unused

A $16 million police substation meant to serve Oahu's west side community sits nearly empty and there are new calls to use it at its full potential.
Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 6:29 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2023 at 6:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A $16 million police substation meant to serve Oahu’s west side community continues to sit nearly empty — and there are new calls to finish the building and use it to its full potential.

It has been nearly seven years since the Waianae substation was built, but HPD Maj.Gail Beckley said the second floor remains unfinished and there’s only one officer manning the station.

“There’s like four unfinished rooms so I do put in for CIP funding to get at least maybe one room finished or a couple of rooms finished, but so far hadn’t gotten that approved,” said Beckley.

Patty Kahanamoku-Teruya, chair of the Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board, testified on Thursday before the Honolulu City Council to express her frustration that the 25,000 square foot building is still not up and running.

Beckley said only one officer is assigned per shift for walk-ins and only juveniles can be processed because the facility doesn’t have the proper equipment to handle adult arrests.

The police union has been pushing for the station to be completed so it can be an additional district on the Leeward side. It’s currently part of District 8, which stretches from Ewa all the way to Kaena Point.

“You have geographical restrictions that make it difficult for officers to get from one point of district eight to the other,” said SHOPO Honolulu Chapter Chair Nick Schlapak.

“You also have some transit issues as well with Farrington Highway, and so on and so forth.”

But many said HPD wouldn’t be able to staff another district.

The department is currently down by 393 officers.

“You’re starting to approach 25% of the police force being vacant, there’s got to be something to be done to start filling those positions,” said retired HPD Deputy Chief John McCarthy.

“There’s no lack of people wanting to serve out there. A lot of the young officers live out there. It’s closer to home. They like working in the area. They like serving their community.”

Councilwoman Andria Tupola toured the empty facility in January and introduced a resolution to utilize the Waianae Police station and expand officers to the Leeward Coast. She pointed out HPD returned $18 million to the City Council last fiscal year — unused funds that could have completed the upstairs.

“I think it’s offensive, knowing that there is this money that’s been allocated, but it’s not going to be prioritized, we’re not going to fill it and we’re not going to put officers in there,” said Tupola.

“Now, there are reasons why, but either way, if we prioritize this, it could happen.”

HPD estimates it will cost about $6 million, one-third of what was returned to complete the second floor.