Wide cost disparity revealed as Hawaii law enforcement agencies replace guns

Hawaii’s largest law enforcement agencies will soon be carrying all new firearms, but one got a much better bargain than the other. It’s a move first uncovered by Always Investigating.

Last year, we reported about the Honolulu Police Department’s transition to a new style of handgun, and the limbo their old weapons were in at the time.

Now the state Department of Public Safety is replacing their stock too, so who got the best deal for your taxpayer money?

HPD is phasing out its Smith and Wesson guns for Glocks at a cost of $818,000 for 2,000 guns, or $409 per gun. That’s the same price per gun that Kauai paid for 20 Glocks.

“I don’t know much about Glocks, maybe that’s just what they cost, but there’s nothing wrong with doing some market research and finding out hey, if we buy in bulk, why don’t we get a discount?” said Sarah Allen, the state’s chief procurement officer.

Contrast that per-gun price with the gun swap happening for the sheriffs’ guns.

The state awarded a $300,000 contract to replace DPS’ Smith and Wessons with two different models of Sig Sauer. It will also be getting a credit of about $160,000 for trading in its old guns.

The out-of-pocket total for 750 weapons comes down to about $178 each.

While the Sig Sauer is a slightly less expensive gun in the first place, the big difference in price for taxpayers is because of that exchange credit. So we wanted to know why one department got such a good deal?

The state isn’t taking credit for coming up with the idea of the exchange rebate, and says it’s something the vendor pitched in its bid.

HPD says it followed procurement rules but only one company put in a bid for its guns, and said the department couldn’t get any credit for the old guns from Smith and Wesson since it went with a new vendor.

Dealing with waste and leftovers is something the state’s top buying authority wants to see thought of ahead of time on all future buys, no matter the product.

“I want folks to think right up front, this is what we’re going to need now, is it replacing something? Are we buying new? What can we do with the old? Can we leverage any of that part?” Allen said. “You may consider, we could save some money by taking these old products or items and selling them, or we could donate them for a good cause.”

With no exchange planned, HPD’s old guns were in limbo for quite a while. American Samoa authorities told Always Investigating last year that they hoped for a donation – and even discussed it with HPD’s chief — but HPD says a new administration in American Samoa doesn’t want them after all.

That left HPD with safety concerns about selling them for parts or even to existing officers, so they’ve decided to destroy them, which HPD says comes with no added cost.

The state procurement office says an online “wizard” program will help state and local agencies think of and plan for what to do with old things as part of the request for bids. That program should be available as soon as the end of the year.

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