Gov. David Ige appointed Fred Hyun as temporary director of the state Department of Public Safety, which has struggled with coronavirus outbreaks in jails and uneasiness amongst jail staff.

Fred Hyun will serve in a temporary role as head of the Department of Public Safety. Courtesy: Governor's Office

Hyun is taking a leave of absence from his position as chair of the Hawaii Paroling Authority to take on the temporary role through at least Nov. 30. Hyun replaces outgoing DPS Director Nolan Espinda, who went on leave earlier this month and retired Wednesday.

Hyun was previously assigned as Ige’s special master to evaluate the department and investigate concerns raised by labor unions in Espinda’s absence. It’s a role he’ll continue, according to a press release.

“I’m ready to continue this assignment to help PSD identify areas of improvement and make the necessary changes to enable the department to operate more effectively,” Hyun said in the press release.

The DPS is in charge of county jails, state prison and the state sheriffs.

Maria Cook, DPS deputy director of administration, will assist Hyun in his temporary role, according to the press release.

Ige has yet to appoint an interim director for DPS.

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