Momentum builds
for audit of state
Narcotics Division

An investigator reports that his efforts
to solve problems from within
have gone nowhere

By Pat Omandam

A management and financial audit of the state Narcotics Enforcement Division will reveal mismanagement of programs, waste and abuse of tax dollars, favoritism, fraud, retaliation and other problems, its supporters say.

Ed Howard, a supervising investigator, told the Senate Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee in his written testimony yesterday that he supports two Senate resolutions calling for a first legislative audit of the division.

With more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, the last 10 with the division, Howard said his efforts to address these issues internally over the past months have gone nowhere.

"This audit will be the beginning of identifying the problems, shortcomings and areas of concern so that proper correction and oversight can begin," Howard wrote.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 103 and Senate Resolution 71 were introduced by state Sens. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai) and Bob Hogue (R, Kailua-Kaneohe) and signed by 14 other senators.

Slom said yesterday he began hearing complaints about the Narcotics Enforcement Division last September. But he said it was not until people publicly came forward to discuss their complaints, which Administrator Keith Kamita did not adequately respond to during legislative budget hearings, that the resolutions got rolling.

Slom added that people are now more confident things are being done differently in state government, and they are willing to step forward for positive change.

The committee will vote on the resolutions Tuesday. No one testified against them yesterday.

Interim Public Safety Director James Propotnick told the committee he supports the audit and will assist in all aspects of it.

Others who offered written testimony said the division is a dysfunctional state agency. John Reardon, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who is now a state civil and criminal investigator, said he worked with several narcotics investigators between 1997 and 2002 and saw "apparent complacency and unmitigated laziness" from most of the investigative staff, as well as leadership that lacked initiative and performance.

Reardon added most of the work was being done by less than half of the investigators there.

"In short, this seemingly well-funded, well-equipped agency, as a whole, was not performing the public service that would justify the salaries, overtime, training funds and other perks provided to its investigators at the cost to taxpayers," he wrote.

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