The state’s conservation and resource enforcement officers may soon be required to obtain accreditation from a national organization that also accredits Hawaii’s four county police departments.

A joint panel of House lawmakers Tuesday morning voted unanimously to advance Senate Bill 3019, which would require the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to get accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

DLNR Docare officers with other watercraft near Hokulea offshore Waikiki.
A bill moving through the Legislature would require CALEA accreditation for conservation officers. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement tried to get CALEA accreditation in 2009 but was “stymied by the increased amount of funding needed to implement CALEA standards statewide,” DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case said in written testimony.

DOCARE Lt. Carlton Helm told lawmakers the agency expects initiating the accreditation process could cost $1 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The department is also asking lawmakers for $750,000 each year thereafter to cover recurring costs associated with accreditation.

Those funds would also help cover capital improvements and other training upgrades, according to Helm.

Each county police department maintains accreditation with CALEA. In 2011, lawmakers issued a similar mandate to the state Department of Public Safety’s Sheriffs Division. State deputy sheriffs are currently in the process to get accredited.

SB 3019 now moves to the House Finance Committee.

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