Gov. Ige appoints Max Otani as new Public Safety Director

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Governor David Ige has appointed Max Otani to serve as the new Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

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“With Max taking the helm at Public Safety, I am confident that we can continue moving forward with initiatives set in motion by PSD’s previous director, Nolan Espinda and acting director Fred Hyun,” said Gov. Ige.

Otani began his criminal justice career in 1985 with the state’s judiciary system, as a Family Court officer and Circuit Court probation officer.

From there, he served more than two decades with the Hawaii Paroling Authority (HPA) in various positions. Otani continued to work in the state’s corrections and judicial systems before becoming DPS Deputy Director for Corrections in 2013. He returned to his previous position as administrator of the Intake Service Center Division, where he remained until his retirement from DPS in 2016.

“I would like to thank Governor Ige for the opportunity to return to work with the Department of Public Safety. I look forward to working with staff, other agencies and community partners to address the needs of the department,” said Otani.

Current Acting Director Fred Hyun will return to his position as the chair of the HPA. Governor Ige said Hyun will remain on board with DPS until Dec. 30 as Special Master to complete an assessment of the department.

“During his career in corrections, Max initiated evidence-based practices with the incarcerated, parole and pretrial populations in efforts to reduce recidivism,” said Hyun. “He brings a wealth of knowledge to the job and I look forward to working with him in his new position.”

Otani replaces Nolan Espinda, who retired in September.

“I’d like to thank Fred for stepping in to oversee the department during this transition period. COVID-19 is putting a huge burden on PSD’s overcrowded and aging correctional facilities. Once Fred reports his findings, I am confident he and Max will work together to address areas of concern and prioritize mitigation measures that will enable the department to operate more effectively,”

Governor David Ige

Otani’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

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