Hiring, OCCC replacement high priorities for Public Safety Department
Outdated and overcrowded. Just a few words that have been used to describe the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
"It is old," said Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda. "It does not meet the function and the need of a modern correctional facility."
He says to further plans to relocate the old facility to Halawa, the department will need $20 million for planning services.
Money to relocate OCCC was just one of the many items brought up Tuesday, when Espinda appeared in front of state senators to go over his supplemental budget requests.
Hiring is also on the list.
The department is asking for legislators to approve money for more than 40 new positions: 15 new correctional officer positions at the Maui Community Correctional Center as well as new medical and health professionals like nurses and psychologists.
KITV4 asked Espinda if he'll have trouble filling those positions. He said "its difficult."
"Right now its a real employees market. It's difficult but we will continue our efforts," he said. "Until then, we need to plan for that and the only way to plan for that is to make sure we have competitive salaries and enough positions to provide the services that we expect to be provided for our inmates."
Before the hearing wrapped up, Espinda fielded questions from senators.
One was on the request for money to support future law enforcement efforts on Mauna Kea: $3.6 million for fiscal year 2020, and $4.7 for the year after.
Senators wondered why?
Governor David Ige ordered all law enforcement off the mountain last month.
"It's fluid," said Espinda.
According to Hawaii's Attorney General, the public safety department's efforts on Mauna Kea cost the state more than $1.2 million so far. Espinda said the request would be for funding overtime, travel, and more if a standoff continues.
Espinda also presented this to state representatives Monday. No decisions were made by state legislators yet.