Bill Establishing Law Enforcement Board Passes without Ige’s Signature

By Cocke, Sophie | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, July 11, 2018 | Go to article overview

Bill Establishing Law Enforcement Board Passes without Ige’s Signature


Cocke, Sophie, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Gov. David Ige discussed bills he vetoed Tuesday at the state Capitol. Ige vetoed eight of 11 bills.

A bill requiring the creation of a statewide law enforcement standards and training board has become law after Gov. David Ige on Tuesday reversed course and decided not to veto it. The measure, which was opposed by the county police departments, aims to create greater oversight over law enforcement and achieve more uniformity when it comes to standards and training.

Hawaii is the only state in the country not to have such a board. Under Hawaii’s law the Law Enforcement Standards Board will have the power to certify and decertify law enforcement officers at both the state and county levels.

Advocates of the new law say that such a board can prevent officers who have been disciplined for serious misbehavior, or even fired, from being hired by another law enforcement agency.

Such was the case with Ethan Ferguson, a former Department of Land and Natural Resources officer who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016 for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. Ferguson had caught her smoking marijuana on a Hilo beach. The girl testified that Ferguson led her to a secluded area and told her that she could give him “money, sex or drugs” to avoid arrest. Ferguson had been fired for misconduct by the Honolulu Police Department, but that didn’t stop DLNR from hiring him in 2013 as an officer within its Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Former state Sen. Will Espero, who has advocated for the law, said the new board could have prevented Ferguson from being rehired in law enforcement by stripping his certification.

If implemented properly, Espero said, “you don’t have the possible rogue officers or suspect officers going from one agency to another.”

The 15-member board also will be tasked with creating minimum standards for becoming a law enforcement officer, criteria for denying certification and curriculum requirements. …

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