State lawmakers push for new bill to expand public database of officer wrongdoings

Hawaii state lawmakers are pushing for a new bill to make wrongdoings by officers become public knowledge.

The bill was co-introduced by Sen. Will Espero, along with Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Sen. Clarence Nishara, Sen. Laura Thielen, Sen. Maile Shimabukuro,

Sen. Espero says he does not want to see another situation like the incident involving Ethan Ferguson, who was hired by the Department of Land and Natural Resources as an officer on the Big Island.

Ferguson was hired despite after the Honolulu Police Department told them they shouldn’t, and is now charged with sexually assaulting a teenager, while he was on-duty and in uniform.

Sen. Espero says he wants to prevent one agency hiring a previously fired officer, so he’s co-introduced a bill that he feels should help.

“This measure would ask or mandate that the attorney general’s office keep a database of all officers who’ve resigned, forced to resign or fired,” said Sen. Espero, Public Safety Committee Vice Chair. “And it also asks each of the agencies to maintain that database as well.”

Right now police departments already file annual reports to the legislature that include information about police officer misconduct.

For example, in Honolulu Police Department’s 2014 report, the list of misconduct varies from assault, insurance fraud, and even illegal cockfighting gambling operations.

But another bill Espero co-introduced along with Sen. Baker, Sen. Nishihara, Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran would expand that to include all law enforcement agencies in the state including the Sheriff’s Division, and the DLNR.

“There is certainly a need for little more changes in the way our police and law enforcement departments are operating,” Sen. Espero said.

Espero wants the database to be permanent and open to the public.

Both bills have passed first reading and were referred to different committees, but haven’t been scheduled for hearings yet.

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