Governor signs bill into law creating large new statewide police force

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii now has a new statewide police force.

Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law Friday creating the new department, which is scheduled to be up and running by January 2024. Organizing, however, it will begin immediately.

Under the measure, the state Department of Public Safety will be divided into two.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will handle the jails and prison.

And the newly-created Department of Law Enforcement will include the Sherriff’s Division, which will still maintain jurisdiction of the courts and airports.

DLE will also absorb Harbor Patrol, Narcotics Enforcement, and the state Office of Homeland Security.

Some investigators from the Attorney General’s office will also move over.

The new law enforcement agency will have about 400 sworn officers.

“It brings everybody together so we have unified command,” said current DPS Deputy Director Jordan Lowe.

Training would also be streamlined and able to meet higher standards.

Supporters said it would also unify investigations that span multiple counties and islands.

“It’s particularly important to me,” said state Sen. Lynn DeCoite, vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and an advocate of the move since her district includes parts of Molokai, Lanai and Maui.

Hawaii is the only state without a centralized law enforcement agency and Ige said the change will allow for more efficient and effective emergency response.

Max Otani, director of the current Department of Public Safety, said the change makes sense since the two divisions “have distinctly different and unique missions.”

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