Lawmaker demands answers after state boots deputy sheriffs from Honolulu airport patrols


Major changes are in the works at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport with regards to security.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation sent a letter to the Department of Public Safety to say deputy sheriffs will no longer be patrolling the airport.

The Department of Public Safety tells us it has 57 deputy sheriffs and two civilians working at Honolulu’s airport.

There is a Memorandum of Agreement that says deputy sheriffs provide law enforcement duties at the airport including the surrounding areas. Those duties include criminal arrests, misdemeanor investigations, and traffic enforcement.

According to DPS’ annual report:

AIRPORT SECTION

The current Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Transportation – Airports (DOT) specifies that the Department of Public Safety (PSD) agree to assign Deputy Sheriff personnel to provide law enforcement duties at the Honolulu International Airport including the surrounding areas of the Department of Transportation – Airports jurisdiction; and the Kalaeloa and Dillingham Airfield. Responsible for general law enforcement activities in the delivery of the services under this unit, including criminal arrests, misdemeanor investigations, submitting written criminal reports, assisting in subsequent prosecution, traffic enforcement, and any other state or city law enforcement provision.

PATROL UNIT

This unit provides law enforcement and protective services for all persons/entities within the Department of Transportation Airport jurisdiction including the Honolulu International Airport, Kalaeloa Airfield and Dillingham Airfield.

We wanted to know who will be taking over the duties, why it’s being done, and how much it will cost.

After multiple calls and emails to the transportation department, sheriffs, and their union, no one will reveal any information.

UPDATE: State explains decision to terminate agreement for deputy sheriffs at Honolulu airport

KHON2 spoke with a lawmaker who is also concerned about this.

Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate transportation committee, says the safety of travelers is at risk, and he wants more answers as to why the changes are being made.

He confirms DOT sent the public safety department a 180-day notice to end this agreement, but that’s all he knows.

“Certainly we still need to get more details on why the Department of Transportation is doing this, because there’s, in my opinion, no better (option) than to have a state law enforcement agency versus a private contractor,” Espero said.

Deputy sheriffs belong to the Hawaii Government Employees Association. The union filed a lawsuit against the state last year because it allowed Securitas to take over some of the law enforcement duties at all of Hawaii’s airports.

We asked about this latest issue, and received the following statement from Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director:

“HGEA is aware of the letter from the State Department of Transportation to the Department of Public Safety regarding termination of services of State Sheriffs at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. We are working to get more information regarding this issue. In the meantime, we continue to move forward with the lawsuit that was previously filed against DOT regarding its increased use of private security at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Honolulu International Airport).”

We reached out to Securitas, but were told to get the information from DOT. The Department of Public Safety told us the same thing.

We asked the DOT for more information and a copy of the letter. After getting no response, we filed a request through the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesman sent an email saying DOT intends to respond within 10 business days, which is the time allowed by law.

“I’ve already put in a request to the department to get a copy of the letter that was sent to DPS, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to get that today or tomorrow at the latest,” said Espero.

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