Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda gets to keep his job for another four more years. The full Senate voted in favor of keeping him in a 17 to 8 vote, despite the 5-member Public Safety Committee voting against recommending Director Espinda.
Before voting, some lawmakers did not hold back.
“His complacent acceptance of these problems and lack of leadership to address these problems are a serious concern,” said Sen. Breene Harimoto.
“I have had a number of responses and information from the Director that there will, in fact, be change,” said Sen. Sharon Moriwaki.
Espinda faced a lot of scrutiny in recent months following the riot at
Maui Community Correctional Center, as well as the fatal shooting by Deputy Sheriffs at the State Capitol.
Espinda says he knows he has a lot to tackle but did not go into detail about what he will focus on.
“I believe that everything that was brought forward regarding the improvement in our system, regarding any contentious feelings of retaliation or of that nature needs to be addressed,” said Public Safety Director Espinda.
Governor David Ige says the state does it’s best to work with what it has.
“We don’t have a training academy that other law enforcement entities around the state to have, so there are a number of things that we know will be required in order for us to be successful,” said Gov. Ige.
One lawmaker who voted in support of Espinda tells us she doesn’t blame the director but instead says the state has failed.
“We have neglected in contributing to the facilities in the state in the last several years, many years,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye.
Public Safety Committee Chair Clarence Nishihara says he was not surprised by the outcome but is disappointed.
“You’re the head. You’re the one that is at the top of the chain and takes responsibility for whatever happens below. I never got that sense out of the director,” said Sen. Nishihara.
In a turn of events Senator Kurt Fevella, also on the Public Safety Committee, initially voted against Espinda but for the final vote supported him with reservations.
“I really want to give him a chance. As one of the people on the committee, I’m going to hold him to what he says he’s going to do,” said Sen. Fevella.
When it comes to funding for the Public Safety Department, the Governor has talked about incorporating the private sector. The Ways and Means Committee Chair tells us the Governor needs to make that a priority.