Communication Between Feds and State to Improve Following False Alert

January 16, 2018, 4:30 PM HST
* Updated January 16, 4:29 PM
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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono secured a commitment from Secretary of the Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen, following Saturday’s false emergency threat alert to improve communication between the federal government and states on emergency alerts, including verification of the information contained in alerts.

Sen Mazie Hironon. Courtesy photo.

In response to Sen. Hirono’s inquiry, Secretary Nielsen clarified that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has contacted the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) to provide assistance in HI-EMA’s investigation, and clarified that states do not need permission from FEMA to cancel false alerts.

“Saturday’s false emergency alert about a ballistic missile threat to Hawaii induced fear and panic throughout the islands,” Sen. Hirono said. “The threat was false, but the panic was real. People are upset and demanding answers, and so am I. Today, I secured a commitment from Secretary Nielsen to strengthen federal-state cooperation on emergency alerts, assess potential human and systemic failures, and improve overall readiness in Hawai‘i and across our country. I will continue to pursue all avenues of investigation to learn what happened on Saturday and keep it from happening again.”

Sen. Hirono questioned Secretary Nielsen as part of her Senate Judiciary Committee oversight role. The hearing follows Sen. Hirono’s conversations immediately following the alert with Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige and Admiral Harry Harris.

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