HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Department needs new police cars, motorcycles, and video surveillance machines. They've asked the Honolulu city council for $2.6 million from taxpayers but Hawaii News Now has found an HPD account that has six times that amount, just waiting to be used.
It's called the Federal Asset Forfeiture Account. When the FBI, DEA, ICE, or other federal agencies raid gambling or drug operations with HPD, the items seized are sometimes sold. The profit is shared with the participating agencies. HPD has built quite a coffer but the department isn't spending the money available.
Hawaii News Now looked back a decade. 2004 was a good year with $1.3 million added to the account. HPD spent only a little more than 200-thousand of that. Back then the cash balance was about $6 million.
But over the years the balance ballooned to more than $13 million in 2010. And now, the balance is nearly $15 million. So far this year, HPD has only spent 37 thousand dollars.
"It's been there awhile," says City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, "We listen to their needs and they talk about different moneys that needs to be appropriated. Let's use the money. Let's keep our city safe."
"They can use it for a number of items," says Law Enforcement Expert Tommy Aiu.
Over the years the department has purchased, segways, guns, computers and spent the money on events like Project Graduation. They can also use it to buy body cams, something HPD's chief told us months ago, was too expensive.
"They could be saving it for something that they are looking for down the road, a big purchase," says Aiu.
It's unclear if HPD is doing that. We asked them several times over several days why the money isn't being used more. They never responded.