HPD acquires
new gear
to prepare
for terrorism

By Nelson Daranciang

The Honolulu Police Department has spent $4 million on equipment for homeland security and needs to spend another $4 million to be fully prepared for terrorist attacks, Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue said yesterday.

"Things have changed for all of us," he said. "The role of policemen is changing as we move into homeland security. But the biggest thing is funding."

All of the money spent by HPD has been city funds.

"But we are anxiously awaiting the release of money from the federal government," Donohue said.

The department is expecting an $84,000 federal grant and a share of another $1.1 million to be split among the four county police departments.

In Hawaii, unlike most other states, the county police departments are the state's primary law enforcement agencies and the primary responders to terrorist attack. The expenditures for homeland security put Honolulu ahead of most cities on the mainland, Donohue said.

The $4 million that has been spent includes $900,000 for an emergency command vehicle and some of the individual protective suits it needs for each officer.

Honolulu police held a news conference yesterday at their main headquarters to describe their homeland security mission. Assistant Chief Boisse Correa, left, described the new bioterrorism suits for officers.

Donohue said the department has bought more than 600 of the over 2,000 Level C protective suits needed for each of the department's uniformed officers and some civilian workers. At a cost of $630 each, Level C suits use protective masks and disposable coveralls.

About a fourth of the departments' 2,043 uniformed officers are trained in the use of Level C suits, said Boisse Correa, assistant police chief.

Level B and Level A suits are for members of the department's rapid deployment force and Specialized Services Division.

Level B suits are similar to Level C suits but replace the air filter elements in the protective mask with a self-contained breathing apparatus strapped to the wearer's back. Level B suits cost $5,100 each. Those with communications devices for sergeants cost $5,350.

Level A suits encapsulates the wearer of a Level B suit in an impermeable coverall. It is used when entering environments contaminated with unknown chemical or biological agents. Each Level A suit costs $20,000 to $23,000.

The department has dozens of the Level A and B suits but wants to get an unspecified additional number, HPD officials said.

Following the post-Sept. 11, 2001, anthrax scare, the city purchased equipment for the Honolulu Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services to test for chemical and biological agents.

Correa also said the department has been conducting joint terrorist attack response training operations with the Honolulu Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, state Civil Defense and Kaneohe Marines.

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