All week, KHON2 has been reporting on misconduct by police officers in counties across the state. Read those reports here.
But while county police departments are required by law to disclose the information, no such rule exists for other types of law enforcement.
State Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa Beach, Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, chairman of the Senate public safety committee, says the law came about because there had been a rash of complaints against police officers.
He says county police officers have more interaction with the public, so there’s reason they’re given more scrutiny.
But, KHON2 argued, state sheriffs regularly patrol airports and other public places with big crowds, like the State Capitol, carry firearms and issue tickets on highways.
“Yes, there is a possibility of misconduct and bad behavior and certainly that is something that, if those numbers are on the increase or if there are problems, we should know about them for sure,” Espero said.
Tenari Maafala, president of SHOPO, the Honolulu police officers’ union, says it’s only fair to hold other law enforcement officers to the same standards and be held accountable for any wrongdoing.
“Without a doubt we all should. There’s no one above the law, myself included, so whether you’re a county, state or federal officer of law enforcement, no one’s above the law,” he said.
Sheriffs and adult corrections officers fall under the Department of Public Safety. A spokeswoman said in a statement, “We comply with the current statutes on reporting to the Legislature. These are policy decision(s) for the legislature.”
Espero says it might be time to change the law.
“The idea of having state law enforcement provide that information is certainly one that I would support and I would look into it to see if we can have that information shared on a regular basis,” he said.