HPD’s newly converted fleet of pickups taken off patrols after safety concerns surface

HPD officers have been ordered to immediately halt use of the department’s pickup trucks — just one month after the newly-converted vehicles hit the road.
Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 5:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HPD officers have been ordered to immediately halt use of the department’s pickup trucks — just one month after the newly-converted vehicles hit the road.

HNN Investigates learned an internal memo went out Tuesday, saying the fleet had been taken off the streets after the trucks were found to be unsafe for patrol work.

In June, Honolulu police converted 10 Chevy Colorados into the department’s newest patrol vehicles. The trucks were purchased during the pandemic using COVID relief funds.

At a news conference last month HPD Maj. Calvin Sung touted the pilot project.

“Trucks will make it easier for on duty patrol police officers,” he told reporters.

“All HPD pickup trucks are properly marked with the Honolulu Police Department decals and they’re equipped with police radios, lights and sirens.”

The idea was that the pick-ups could be used to respond to calls and conduct traffic stops.

But a little more than a month after the pilot project began, officials confirm the trucks have been ordered off the road and are now being stripped of their blue lights.

HNN Investigates confirmed the department terminated use off all 10 trucks Tuesday. Sources say the internal memo announcing the decision explained the trucks were unsafe for patrol work.

HNN asked HPD what specific safety issues arose in the past month that prompted the decision.

In an email, an HPD spokesperson responded: “The trucks were recently tested on the driving track for possible use as standard patrol vehicles. Following the testing, it was decided that the trucks should only be used as support or utility vehicles.”

According to Consumer Reports, the Chevrolet Colorado lacks key protective technology and was found to have bigger blind spots and longer braking distances than most cars and SUVs.

The model also doesn’t have standard safety features like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and blind spot warning.

When HNN asked about the costs associated with the decision a spokesperson wrote that “there is none,” saying the blue lights came from existing inventory.

She added installation and removal is done in-house by HPD personnel.

While the project didn’t involve any new spending, some point out that time is money.

“The support units within the police department, they do this. They’re busy. They don’t have time to put it on, take it off,” said John McCarthy, retired HPD deputy chief.

The law enforcement expert says he’s puzzled why the department chose to convert its entire fleet before ensuring the vehicles were safe.

“There’s established procedures that can be used. And they’re proven,” McCarthy said. “So why don’t you go through those procedures before making your decision? It doesn’t make sense.”

It’s unclear exactly how the trucks will be used once their blue lights are removed.