The state Sheriff Division is “hampered by ineffective leadership” and “lacks guidance and direction” according to a report released last month by State Auditor Marion Higa, who isn’t known for pulling punches. The Sheriff Division is part of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and is tasked with “formulating and implementing state goals and objectives for law enforcement programs”; basically, they’re the overarching police body in Hawaii.
More from the report: “Inadequate law enforcement training, issues pertaining to equipment, and an absence of procedures related to the staffing and service of the courts have raised questions regarding the safety of the public, the courts, and the deputy sheriffs themselves.” Lack of funding is an obvious culprit (one example cited in the report is the fact that 69 bulletproof vests still hadn’t been replaced months after their expiration date), but Higa also blames “vague constitutional language, a broad interpretation of statutory authority, and the consolidation of functions previously deemed incompatible,” including, “drug enforcement, illegal immigration, homeland security, fugitive arrests, criminal investigations, eviction proceedings, and traffic enforcement.”
So how does the department respond? An indignant denial? A promise to clean up the mess? Though he didn’t dispute any of the facts, DPS head Clayton Frank told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that Higa’s conclusions are “an overstatement of the day-to-day reality.” I feel better…how about you?