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Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Full Text: Espinda Promises No Retaliation Against PSD Dissidents
By Selected News Articles @ 4:57 AM :: 1986 Views :: Ethics, Law Enforcement

Department of Public Safety Inter-Office Memorandum

To: All Employees

From: Nolan P. Espinda, Director      April 22, 2019

I want to take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for your commitment and dedication to the Department's mission. We have accomplished a lot in the last four years, and I credit each of you for these achievements.

Recent fatal shootings involving PSD employees and a riot/disturbance at the Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC) have brought the Department front and center attention from the news media and the public. As you know, these events are unfolding at the same time that the Senate is considering my re-confirmation as PSD Director, and there is naturally a great deal of criticism that has come my way. I have learned a lot during this confirmation process and I am grateful of the fact that so much of the criticism was constructive. Among those mentioned was fear of retaliation against employees who have submitted testimony in opposition to my re-confirmation. While I am saddened that some employees have expressed fear of retaliation, I want to assure everyone that I have not, and will not, retaliate against anyone who has submitted testimony in opposition to my re­ confirmation. There is no place for retaliation at PSD; that is not who I am, and I firmly reject it.

Some MCCC employees have expressed their concerns over working conditions and their fear of retaliation for bringing these concerns forward. It's difficult to put myself in the shoes of these employees who have just gone through so much. But when I do, I can't imagine that anyone could think of retaliating against these dedicated people, who have just endured personal danger in restoring order and security to the heavily damaged facility, while insuring the safety of inmates and their fellow employees. They are to be commended and not second-guessed for their continued commitment and professionalism.

Everyone should note that I take very seriously the Department's long-standing policies on anti­ retaliation and anti-harassment, and I expect these and all policies be strictly adhered to and enforced. I believe we all want a workplace free of harassment and retaliation, and so, we must mutually respect differences of opinion. Related to this is PSD's policy on Complaints, which allows any employee to file a complaint against the Department or staff. The policy requires that the complaint will receive prompt attention, and any action taken must follow due process procedures for good cause.

Some of the criticism expressed in testimony opposing my confirmation sharpened the focus on many of the issues we have yet to tackle or that need reinforcement. These include the following:

Earning CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) accreditation for our Sheriffs- it's clear that our progress in this matter is not up to the desired level that I had committed myself to four years ago. That shortcoming falls to me and to no one else. I pledge to refocus the Department's energy and resources towards meeting this goal.

Less-Lethal Devices- since FY 2017, I have requested but been unsuccessful in securing such funding. PSD's FY 2019 request for the next biennium budget reflects our firm commitment to move forward with continued training and acquisition of less-lethal devices to provide options for Sheriffs and ACOs. In light of recent events, I am hopeful that lawmakers will support our efforts.

Overcrowding - it is no secret that our facilities are overcrowded. I have long expressed my concerns to decision makers as well as publicly, and the 2016 Legislature appropriated $15M for KCCC, $15M for HCCC, and $7.5M for MCCC for additional housing. These projects are currently in progress, but much more needs to be done.

On March 22th, after some of the damage had been cleared, PSD administrative staff, together with MCCC staff and a construction consultant assessed the restoration work needed at the facility, resulting in our making an emergency request to the Governor for $5.3M to address the immediate needs in the current 2019 fiscal year and $8M in CIP funding for FY 2020 for long term health and safety improvements to MCCC modules. These funding proposals were put before the Legislature during the last weeks of this Session.

The above are some of the most important projects that need to be completed, and there are more, as I previously stated. If confirmed, I believe that the stability and consistency we have been blessed to establish over the past four years have set the stage for even greater accomplishments in the next four years. And as I also stated before, my role and progress as Director would not be possible without such a strong and reliable workforce. You have my gratitude and with it, the hope that you will continue to take pride in doing the outstanding work you do everyday, in the toughest department in the State.

---30---

Background: Full Text: MCCC Officers Tell Riot Story, Slam 'Upper Echelons' of PSD

PDF: Espinda Letter to Staff 

HNN: Embattled Public Safety director promises no retaliation against staff

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