Governor's Proposal to Transfer Sheriff Deputies Opposed by HGEA

Jan 25, 2018

State Department of Public Safety Sheriffs Division patch
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

The State Airports Division wants to have more control over the State Sheriffs assigned to work there. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

Governor Ige is proposing legislation to transfer 59 state sheriffs to the Department of Transportation
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Governor David Ige is proposing legislation to transfer 59 state sheriff deputies from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Transportation Airports Division.  He says the deputies would keep their badges and uniforms.

“We do believe that this solution of transferring the sheriffs to the Department of Transportation allows them to be directly managed and it would allow us to exercise the managerial control that’s necessary to assure the safety at our airports, balancing the federal requirements of TSA, at the same time, defining the responsibilities for law enforcement officials that are state employees.”

The governor says, if legislation is approved, sheriff deputies at DOT would retain their memberships in the public employee labor union … the Hawai’i Government Employees Association -- HGEA.  But, the union’s executive director, Randy Perreira, says the HGEA does not support the transfer to DOT and favors another option.

HGEA executive director, Randy Perreira, favors legislation to consolidate state law enforcement under the Office of the Attorney General
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“We’re gonna be supporting legislation that we understand will be introduced that will consolidate law enforcement under the Attorney General’s Office.  To us, that’s a sensible move; it would create some consistency in terms of the direction of law enforcement that the state takes.  It would allow for greater efficiency, frankly, in terms of training and just putting everybody under one roof, so to speak.”

The governor says the Sheriff Deputies at the DOT would also be competitive for promotions and a separate personnel management system would not be necessary.

“I think that they would continue to be eligible and operate under the existing contract that governs transfers of state employees within various departments.”

But, union leader Perriera says the HGEA does not see this as a logical move that benefits any party.

“It just seems there may be some disjointed relationship between Public Safety and the DOT which is leading the administration to kind of a knee-jerk reaction.  Okay, if we can’t get these two agencies to cooperate, then let’s just create our own force.  That’s bogus.”

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.