LIHUE — The Kauai Police Department is looking to buy new trucks and guns and get federal funding to crack down on illegal drugs.
Two KPD officers are scheduled to appear before the Kauai County Council on Wednesday to explain three requests recently submitted by the department.
Assistant Chief Roy Asher will explain why police need to spend about a half a million dollars to replace the department’s handguns and buy new Ford Explorer patrol vehicles.
According to a memorandum submitted to the council last month, the new equipment will be paid for using funds already in the KPD’s budget, initially allocated for a retirement contribution account. Asher said the money is available because four officers unexpectedly resigned in the past several months.
The KPD memo spells out a “three-year strategic vehicle replacement plan,” which involves purchasing seven new patrol vehicles — for $65,000 each — a year for the next three years at an annual cost of $455,000.
The department plans to purchase the vehicles outright instead of paying a five-year lease, a measure the memo says will ultimately save the county more than $35,000, “making this the most fiscally responsible option.”
Asher will also brief the council on KPD plans to transition from the .40 caliber handgun used by its officers to a 9-millimeter model, a switch that, according to the memo, will save the department money and provide its officers with a more effective weapon.
“The cost of 9mm ammunition as compared to the cost of .40 caliber ammunition is cheaper, which will save KPD money over time,” the memo says.
Asher could not confirm exactly how much money the department can expect to save in ammunition costs or how long it will take for the savings to equal the overall price of the transition, but he will presumably have to answer similar questions during Wednesday’s council meeting.
Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce will brief the council on two requests related to about $200,000 in federal funding to be spent on the KPD’s illicit drug eradication efforts.
Ponce submitted his requests in writing via two memos to the council earlier this month.
The KPD is asking for approval to accept $142,000 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy “to support programs and initiatives through statewide mutual and joint efforts in narcotic enforcement.”
The federal funds are to be spent through the end of 2020 to “defray costs directly relating to the efforts of dismantling of drug trafficking organizations,” according to the memo.
The KPD has made use of this funding in years past to supplement the KPD’s drug enforcement budget by paying for overtime, specialized training, canine maintenance, and other services and equipment.
The KPD has also applied for $50,000 from the Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on weed.
This funding is also applied for by the KPD on a regular basis and helps cover the cost of overtime paid to officers working to find and destroy “illicit cultivated marijuana.”
The DEA offers the funding to law enforcement agencies that cooperate with joint marijuana enforcement efforts. According to a letter of agreement between the KPD and the DEA, the money is awarded on the condition that Kauai police officers gather and report data related to weed growing operations, investigate instances of drug trafficking, make drug arrests and send samples of recovered weed to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The council meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Historic County Building.