Thursday, February 21, 2013


Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety: Incapable of fulfilling its mission?

When people really want to escape, they find a way to do it. That's all I can sayState Public Safety Director Ted Sakai

by Larry Geller

So how safe is the public under the direction of State Public Safety Director Ted Sakai? Can we really tolerate having anyone who wants to escape being given a way to do it by our Department of Public Safety?

The Star-Advertiser story by reporters Gordon Pang and Gregg Kakesako related a series of missteps that allowed accused murderer Teddy Munet to escape from corrections officers behind the Circuit Court building on Wednesday morning. He was recaptured that evening, but earlier in the day he caused disruption in the neighborhood:

Shortly after Munet escaped, he apparently tried to carjack a parent dropping off a student at nearby Voyager Public Charter School, Principal Mary Beth Barr said.

"He attempted to take her out of her car, so she called police and the school office," Barr said. "That spurred us to go into lockdown.

[Star-Advertiser p.1, Escapee recaptured blocks from court, 2/21/2013]

Sakai said Munet should have been in leg shackles but was not, the article reported. But that was only one of the questions raised. There were enough missteps at the scene that citizens should be concerned. Sakai’s remark, “When people really want to escape, they find a way to do it. That's all I can say,” is far from encouraging.

Sakai said Munet should have been in leg shackles but was not.

"I'm not sure (why) and this is something we're investigating," he said. "This is of concern to us."

Another recent escape also raised concerns about the quality of safety being delivered by DPS. On October 31 a prisoner in custody at the court climbed through the ceiling into a nearby room and walked out of the building. He was re-captured the next day in a supermarket parking lot very near Disappeared News’ headquarters.

Clearly the public is endangered by DPS laxity—one prisoner found in a supermarket parking lot, another threatening a parent and student near their school.

Although Sakai said that the DPS is investigating, it would appear that, given the attitude of its director as quoted in the news article, there should be an independent outside investigation of the DPS itself.

A news article printed in a paper is a dispassionate account of events, and the two reporters have described the situation clearly. This is a blog. This blogger thinks the state has a responsibility to hold DPS and its leadership accountable to maintain the public safety, and that an outside review is justified in view of the remarks attributed to the DPS director.


Possibly related: checking the DPS website you’ll find this on its home page:



Following the link, we learn that the featured Hawaii Correctional Industries is intended “To be a self-supporting “for profit” Quasi-State Agency.”

Perhaps DPS is unclear on their mission.


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