Back-up police force idea goes to council

A back-up police force would incur minimal cost and provide invaluable aid, an argument a retired 17-year New York state court officer plans to make to county officials today.

After working for months on an idea he said would be a “win-win” situation for the county and its residents, Bill Kerbawy will present his proposal for an auxiliary police force to the County Council this morning.

The force would be made up of 40 volunteer retired law enforcement officers, and would cost a total of $8,300 annually.

Each officer would carry $1 million in liability insurance, which would cost the county a total of $5,000 to cover all 40 officers.

In addition, each officer would be outfitted with multi-band radios, which would cost $1,285. The cost of firing range qualification and maintenance would be $2,000.

If the idea gets the green light, volunteer officers could be on the streets within six months, Kerbawy said, noting that

July’s slated arrival of the Superferry could cause a flurry of illicit activity that might otherwise strap the Kaua‘i Police Department.

It would be up to the County Council and the Kaua‘i Police Department to approve of the auxiliary police force, said Christopher Young, Hawai‘i supervising deputy attorney general.

Under the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act, retired officers who become certified are already allowed to carry concealed weapons, Young said. However, LEOSA does not entitle those retired officers to have authority over individuals, he added.

The state has been working toward adopting the LEOSA since November 2004, Young said, a process that has been challenging because of a lack of funding and guidance from the federal government.

“The statute gave very little guidance on the oversight of law enforcement,” Young said. “It’s not simply transferring power on someone. We want to make sure our program meets the needs of keeping the public safe and affording the right to carry to those whose applications are verified.”

The state is looking to design an ID for such retired law enforcement that would be difficult to duplicate, Young said, especially in light of Hawai‘i’s ranking sixth in the nation for identity theft and fraud.

“We’re hopefully going to be able to create an ID that’s not easily copied, but those are costs we have to absorb,” Young said.

The state plans to implement LEOSA within the next two months, he said.

• Amanda C. Gregg, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.

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