Prosecutor's $75K request for 'mobile command' unit questioned

Prosecutor's $75K request for 'mobile command' unit questioned
Courtesy: Ford.com
Courtesy: Ford.com

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro wants a Ford Transit cargo van especially made for his office.

Purchasing and outfitting what he calls the "mobile command vehicle" will cost $75,000.

The request requires City Council approval because Kaneshiro wants the money to come from his operational budget rather than the  equipment budget.

But critics of the plan suspect that the office is making a purchase to avoid losing unspent money when the fiscal year ends this month.

"I couldn't imagine what kind of a response would necessitate a vehicle like this from the prosecuting attorney's office," said Councilman Joey Manahan

Councilman Brandon Elefante requested more information from Kaneshiro's office on what the van would be used for if approved.

In his response letter, Kaneshiro writes that it could allow his office to shift administrative functions and operate out of the van during times of natural disasters because the office is in a tsunami inundation zone.

However, it's on the ninth and 10th floors of a building that stands five blocks from Honolulu Harbor. While the chance of a tsunami washing through is highly unlikely, a spokesman for the office says a natural disaster could cause long-term power outages.

The mobile command vehicle could allow court services to remain up and running, the office said.

Kaneshiro also said it could allow investigators with his office to work on scene during times of civil unrest or civil disturbance or in an area where mass arrests can be anticipated. 

The Honolulu Police Department already has multiple mobile command vehicles.

"At the end of the day it is taxpayer money, and we have to be very, very good stewards of how we use this," said Councilman Brandon Elefante, who wants to make sure the van won't double up on services.

Manahan suggests that the van also be used in the field to help the homeless who have court hearings or need temporary restraining orders. Manahan would like to see the prosecutors office along with other city entities doing homeless outreach to help clear paperwork for those living on the streets.

The spokesman for the prosecutor's office, though, said that is not part of the plan.

The full council will take up the issue on Wednesday.

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