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Public Safety director works to weed out corrupt guards after second Halawa arrestUPDATED 7:47 PM HST Jan 27, 2014Video Transcript
second time it's the GUYS who are supposed to be GOOD who are in trouble! The state's promising changes now that a SECOND corrections officer is accused of drug smuggling in the Halawa facility... KITV-4's Andrew Pereira joining us now with the LATEST developments. He spoke to Public Safety Director Ted Sakai earlier today... Andrew? Paula, Yunji... Sakai says inmates will be screened for drugs more aggressively, and visitors and guards MAY notice a change when entering a prison. Director of Public Safety Ted Sakai has no illusions about illegal drug use in Hawaii's lock-ups. TED SAKAI: "WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE DRUG-FREE, WE DON'T PRETEND WE'RE NOT, BUT WE'RE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO KEEP OUR PRISONS DRUG-FEE." Step one: keep the GUARDS drug free. The state has FAILED there at least TWICE. 45-year-old Mark Damas is the newest case. He was arrested Sunday at the Halawa Correctional Facility parking lot. RUSTAM BARBEE: "HE'S VERY CONCERNED, HE'S A LONGTIME, LIFELONG MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY AND THIS AFFECTS HIM AND HIS FAMILY GREATLY, SO HE'S VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THIS." On Nov. 1, Investigators say they found Damas with 5 grams of crystal meth ... Meth they say he planned to peddle to inmates. About two weeks ago, another prison guard, 31-year- old James "Kimo" Sanders was arrested outside Halawa for allegedly doing the same thing. SEN. WILL ESPERO: "THE MAJORITY OF OUR ACOs ARE LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS. UNFORTUNATELY, IT DOES APPEAR LIKE IN THE MOST RECENT TWO INCIDENCES THERE'S JUST BEEN SOME REALLY POOR DECISIONS AND BAD JUDGEMENT MADE BY THESE INDIVIDUALS." Damas was in charge of keeping contraband from entering the prison, the FBI says wire taps prove he did the opposite. In one recording Sept. 8 , the FBI says Damas known as MD declares: "I gave your brother everything he wanted, except for the glue. The unidentified man, known as MC, says: "Okay." Later Damas says, "but I gave him, um, a $1,000 worth, um of ice." The unidentified man says "Yeah." ANDREW PEREIRA: "DAMAS ALLEGELDY WAS ALSO PURCHASING DRUGS OUT IN THE PUBLIC, LIKE HERE AT THE PALOLO LAUNDRY CENTER ON THE EVENING OF NOV. 1. THAT'S WHEN THE FBI NOTICED HIM TAKING POSSESSION OF A WHITE PLASTIC BAG OR BOX FROM AN UNNAMED WOMAN." Sakai has expanded the random drug testing of inmates and is making sure all visitors and guards are screened. SEN. WILL ESPERO: "I BELIEVE WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO SET-UP SOME TYPE OF PROCEDURES WHERE THERE IS ACCOUNTABILITY AND WE CAN GO BACK TO SEE WHETHER SUPERVISORS OR OTHERS ARE DOING THEIR JOB IN TERMS OF SEARCHING THESE EMPLOYEES." REP. HENRY AQUINO: "I THINK WE'RE GOING TO WORK AND LOOK AT THIS VERY CLOSELY. WORK TOGETHER ON TRYING TO SEE HOW WE CAN DO ON OUR PART, LEGISLATIVELY WHAT WE CAN DO TO MAKE SURE THAT PUBLIC SAFETY FOLLOWS THEIR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES." Last year the Department of Public Safety instituted new requirements for prison guards, which includes expanded background checks, as well as assessments of character and competency. A new prison guard makes $3,600 per month. The current contract between prison guards and the state expires June 30, 2017. Any new rules on the screening of prison guards will have to be negotiated now, or wait until that contract ends. Paula?