Authorities have recovered a handgun that was reported missing from Oahu Community Correctional Center and a suspect was arrested.
At around 1 p.m. Wednesday, officials say an adult corrections officer’s .38 revolver was left unattended in a publicly accessible restroom at the main entrance. When the corrections officer went back to retrieve it, the firearm was gone.
At 7 p.m., authorities arrested Janelle Newcomb in Waikiki and booked her on suspicion of theft after previously identifying her as a person of interest. The 35-year-old was a pre-trial detainee who was released from OCCC on Oct. 13 after her case was dismissed in court. She had returned to OCCC Wednesday to pick up her personal items.
“This situation is one that we take very seriously. A full investigation is being conducted so we can make sure safeguards are in place to prevent this from happening again,” said Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda.
Now, we’re pressing the department for answers on how it happened and what’s being done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
A DPS spokeswoman tells us that it happened in a unisex bathroom outside the secured area. We’ve learned that not all ACOs carry guns, only those who patrol the perimeter.
The spokeswoman also released a statement that said, “Firearms are not allowed inside the secured perimeter. Armed posts are all assigned outside of the facility’s secured perimeter.”
A lawmaker says he was in disbelief when he heard about it.
“It’s a little Keystone Cop, I hate to say, but how can you leave a gun? Certainly, we need to find out what actually happened here,” said Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate public safety committee.
We gave the department a list of questions both by email and on the phone. How much time passed when it was reported to Honolulu police? Also, what policies are in place for officers who carry weapons and what type of training do they get?
“That is a question that needs to be answered because apparently something terrible went wrong when this gun was stolen,” said Espero.
According to the DPS’ website, “firearms shall never be left unattended, i.e. sidearm shall always be kept in a holster on the officer’s person.”
Does this apply even when the officer goes to the bathroom? What is the current status of the officer in question?
Instead of answers, we received another statement from DPS: “In order to allow for the full investigative process to take its course, there is nothing else that can be said at this time.”