HONOLULU (KHON2) — The false siren alert raised an unnecessary alarm and a lot of confusion. As a solution, the Police Chief said they’ll be looking into training computers. We learned those are not available. Instead, Honolulu Police say they’ll be using cards to train with not computers. We spoke to Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi who wants to discuss the overall scope of how emergencies are handled.
Honolulu Police say it was an employee who mistakenly activated the Oahu emergency warning sirens. They were training at the Alapai Headquarters when it happened. The accidental activation was short-lived, just about a couple of minutes but the effects lasted a lot longer. HPD says it received several hundred calls to 911.
“I do appreciate the work of Chief Ballard and HPD to get information out soon, that there was no cause for concern. But that still leaves the issue of people wondering when it actually is a concern. When should I be worried,” said Honolulu City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi.
Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi is vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee and says she was surprised to learn that HPD trained on a live system.
“The margin of error is definitely there if there were using live consoles for training, so definitely an issue that we need to address,” said Councilwoman Tsuneyoshi.
HPD says from now on emergency alert training will involve cards with computer screenshots, not live computers because training computers are not available. They’ll ask the state to upgrade the alert system and enable quicker notifications.
“We provide training to the trainer on how the system works,” said Thomas Travis, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator.
Travis tells us they build and maintain the siren systems across the state. How a siren on Maui was also activated will be looked into by them.
“The City and County of Honolulu have the capability by system design to activate the sirens on Oahu, but not the sirens on Maui or the other islands,” said Travis. “So if Oahu sirens were triggered by HPD and sirens elsewhere sounded, then that is an error configuration we would have to repair.”
HPD says no employee disciplinary action will be taken regarding this incident saying this was an honest mistake.