HONOLULU (KHON2) — The governor signed a bill Friday creating the Department of Law Enforcement, giving the state the ability to focus on fighting crime and corrections and rehabilitation independently.
It’s a historic day in Hawaii.
The law establishes the DLE, which separates the department of corrections and rehabilitation, allowing the state to focus on both missions independently and Gov. David Ige said it will help improve the way the community views law enforcement.
“The new department will ensure that there are uniform standards for officers to follow,” Gov. Ige explained. “I believe that this will go a long way toward increasing public trust.”
The DLE will include several existing departments:
- Department of Public Safety’s (PSD) Law Enforcement Division (State Sheriff Division and Narcotics Enforcement Division) and Internal Affairs Office
- Department of Transportation Harbors Division
- Department of the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigative Division
- Department of Defense Office of Homeland Security
- Hawaii State Fusion Center
According to Gov. Ige, consolidating the various law enforcement divisions will help streamline complex multi-island investigations.
The state appropriated $900,000 to establish the department.
Sen. Lynn DeCoite (D), vice-chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee said “the separating of the law enforcement will help with the overall effectiveness of our criminal justice system.”
Max Otani, director of the Department of Public Safety, said it’s also a huge step forward for the corrections.
“There’s a lot of focus on the law enforcement effort of the new department, but this is also a great time for corrections as we move into a great paradigm,” Otani said. “And with this we can concentrate the focus on rehabilitation. And I believe with this bill we create an avenue for a safer Hawaii for everybody.”
This is the first new department established in the state in over 30 years. PSD was the last one created in 1989.
The DLE is scheduled to begin operations on Jan. 1, 2024.
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The PSD will be renamed the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at the same time.