HONOLULU (KHON2) — In a Maui police commission meeting on Wednesday, the Maui Police Department said a new after-action report is in the works. The report will take a look at what went right, what went wrong and what can be improved.
The Maui Police Department announced to the police commission Wednesday that a group has been put together to analyze the department’s response to the Aug. 8 fires.
“This really shows, that’s what we were dealing with at that time,” said Maui Chief of Police John Pelletier.
MPD shared some preliminary findings including that dispatch was slammed taking 4,500 calls compared to an average of 1,600 on a normal day.
Chief Pelletier said officers had their hands full in Kihei, Kula and Lahaina and going door to door trying to evacuate residents.
“We broke down gates to get people out. Gates that didn’t allow egress to affected areas,” said Pelletier. “They literally used their bodies and rams threw themselves into the gates to break them down.”
MPD personnel from the after-action report group provided insight into the challenges they faced that day.
From poles blocking roads to traffic enforcement on Honoapiilani Highway, Front Street and other critical intersections.
We had vehicles headed north on the highway, vehicles evacuating out of Front Street onto the highway and at this point, we still had vehicles attempting points early on in the fire vehicles still trying to come south at which point we directed them around.”Sgt. Chase Bell, Maui Police Department
“This officer here is kind of blocking the Makai-bound traffic that’s heading towards the fire,” Bell continued. “There’s traffic coming mauka and he appears to also be turning traffic toward that dirt road.”
While MPD said the report is still in the early stages it’s already looking at ways to improve future response to crisis.
“Do we have enough breaching equipment in each district such as jaws of life and different saws that can normally go through barriers and doors and things like that but maybe we can look at those things for some of these obstacles,” said Bell. “It’s not just a pole in the road that no vehicle can get over that. You couldn’t even get a tank over that.”
The final after-action report could take up to two years to complete. But Chief Pelletier hopes the findings bring clarity to the community.
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MPD said the preliminary after-action report will be presented in about three to six months. KHON2 News will bring you those details when they become available.