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Community Viewpoint: State Representative Blocks DOCARE Bill

Photo: DLNR
For well over a decade I’ve been an advocate for the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE).  In that time I’ve seen the constant changing of DLNR Directors as well as DOCARE Chiefs.  When any new leadership takes the reigns, there is always high hopes and initiatives they try to implement.  Often times though rotten employees within the enforcement division hamper any meaningful progress usually by putting the new Chief in a bad spotlight and painting a dirty picture.

Over the years some Legislators have fallen for this tactic.  DOCARE has never had the ability to train its own recruits, instead they have to rely on previously trained applicants that come from local or out of state law enforcement and although they sometimes get lucky with good candidates, in other times they are faced with making grim decisions to hire a bad candidate or leave the position vacant and risk losing the vacant position to legislative cutbacks.

Recently however, the new DOCARE Chief Robert Ferrell has initiated a long awaited concept of a DOCARE training academy where the division could train its own recruits who could apply for the positions without any previous experience.  This opportunity would allow anyone to apply for the job which would greatly enhance the pool of applicant choices and DOCARE would no longer be forced to hire questionable employees as that is how the rotten ones got hired in the first place.

The DOCARE Academy Bill SB 3048 SD2 was making its way through the legislature this year and passed the Senate unanimously, giving everyone high hopes that positive changes were in DOCARE’s future.  However, a single House Representative Ryan Yamane who is chairperson for the House Water and Land Committee refused to even hear the bill hence destroying any hope of improving the way the state hires officers.

Now one has to wonder how could this bill be passed with such vigor from the Senate with no Hawaii Senator voting against it and yet be stopped by a single House Representative who’s committee’s purpose is to protect and enhance our natural resources?  Only real dysfunctional leadership with a severe lack of understanding of what it takes to protect our reefs, our fish, everything mauka to makai, could make such a horrible decision.

For over a decade I’ve been an advocate for DOCARE and in that time I’ve come to find out that the reason DLNR Enforcement has never progressed forward positively is because the State House has continuously hampered its development by not providing meaningful funding or legislative improvements such as this academy bill.  The Senate has historically always been supportive but it is indeed the State House who is at fault for hindering DOCARE’s improvement all these years.

So next time you find yourself wondering why DOCARE had to hire an ex-cop who ended up getting arrested for molesting a child on the Big Island, or why some Oahu officers never wrote any citations for the past decade or so, you can thank our State House, especially Rep. Ryan Yamane for blocking much needed improvements.

The Academy Bill SB3048 SD2 could still be brought to life if the legislature attaches it to the Governor’s budget, but that won’t happen without public support.  So if you took the time to read this letter, it means you care and if you are as upset as I am at dysfunctional legislators such as Rep. Yamane, please call him and voice your displeasure and ask him to support our DOCARE officers instead of destroying their morale, you can reach Rep. Yamane at 808-586-6150 or email him at [email protected] .

“The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness” , when Mr. Yamane was sworn in, I think he conveniently forgot that part of our state motto.

Darrell Tanaka

Darrell Tanaka is a lifelong fisherman fighting for conservation for over 12 years with a strong focus on supporting DLNR Enforcement.

The MAUIWatch Community Network invites readers to express their views in the Community Viewpoint. Community Viewpoint columns should be on or around 800 words. Community Viewpoint submissions are subject to editing. We do not print letters announcing events to come, extensive quotations from other material, open letters or form letters. Send to contact (at) mauiwatch (dot) com

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