The unfinished facility is at the center of an effort to create a ninth district in the area.
In his draft budget released Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi signaled his intent to build a replacement police station in Pearl City starting in 2026. It would cost about $40 million over the next six years and “improve overall operations.”
But over on the Leeward Coast, a $16 million facility in Waianae sits unfinished and underused seven years after it was launched under a similar rationale.
Waianae’s police station still lacks a Live Scan machine for fingerprinting adults the police arrest, according to Maj. Gail Beckley, an officer from Waianae. “We did get word that we should be getting one by the summer,” Beckley told Honolulu City Council members this week.
The Live Scan machine is coming from the Attorney General’s Office, City council member Andria Tupola said. Meanwhile, officers have to drive adult suspects to Kapolei for processing, according to Tupola, who represents the Waianae coast. Juveniles can be processed at the station, however.
Despite opening in 2016, the Waianae station is a ghost ship, with only one officer to receive walk-ins. One or two officers sometimes come in to file paperwork, but the station’s top floor is unfinished and has no air conditioning, walls or electrical outlets, Beckley said.
Calls to complete the Waianae police station have increased amid a push to create a new patrol district and provide more resources for Oahu’s West Side.
The Push For A Ninth District
The station currently falls under the Honolulu Police Department’s District 8, which runs from Iroquois Point to Kaena Point. But most of the police resources are devoted to Kapolei, prompting the City Council’s Public Safety Committee to adopt a resolution on Thursday urging HPD to create a ninth patrol district for Waianae.
“Kapolei is not going to stop growing anytime soon,” Tupola said. “The Kapolei station at some point in time is going to have to just service Kapolei and Ewa, and Waianae station is going to have to just service us.”
Tupola introduced the resolution and her plan also seeks more police beats and officers, a new community policing program, and completing the Waianae station.
The idea of a ninth police district has been circulating for years with little progress.
Nicholas Schlapak, the Honolulu chapter chair of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, remembers hearing about it in April 2009.
“The department was talking about District 9 then, and they’re still talking about District 9 now,” Schlapak told the Public Safety Committee in support of Tupola’s resolution.
There are the same number of police beats today, Schlapak said.
“Nothing has ever changed, regardless of the fact that there is a station there, a brand new one, and also that the population has increased exponentially since then,” he said.
But the new Waianae station didn’t get more officers, and earlier on, construction had hit a snag: the station’s radio antenna.
“When they decided to put the shovel in the ground, they realized that they couldn’t move the antenna nor stop it from communicating, for emergency reasons,” said Louis Galdeira, a community liaison for state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, and formerly for Pine.
The construction team had to lift the antenna, demolish the station, build the new one, then reinstall the antenna, Galdeira said. “The assumption is that’s how they ran out of money.”
The building went unfinished.
The pre-pandemic estimate to finish the station was between $5.5 million and $6 million, Beckley said.
In his proposed budget, Blangiardi allotted $4.2 million for the next fiscal year to improve police stations, but HPD confirmed that Waianae would not be among them. An additional $3.3 million was proposed to improve HPD headquarters.
“I don’t think it’s a priority for the police department because they don’t have the staff to put in there,” Galdeira said.
The number of new recruits each year is around 60, close to the number of officers who retire, Tupola said. And HPD must now compete against departments nationwide that offer incentives, another issue raised in Tupola’s resolution.
HPD “is looking into possible incentives,” Yu said.
The police union representative said contract negotiations are coming up soon, but the department is free to offer incentives at any time.
The council resolution urges HPD to consult with the union to consider incentives, like a one-time $1,500 housing allowance for new recruits or a $250 monthly payment for one year to retain officers nearing retirement.
Schlapak wasn’t sure why such money hasn’t moved yet.
“A lot of it has to do with the attitude of the department,” he said.
Update: This story has been updated to include additional information from HPD and to correct the name of the neighborhood board.
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