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County Spent Over $3 Million on Maunakea

August 21, 2019, 11:38 AM HST
* Updated September 4, 11:37 AM
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TMT protest, DAY 3, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. PC: Gerald Besson

Hawai‘i County has spent more than $3 million on overtime for officers policing the protest of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea, according to a report from the county Finance Department.

County officials said they will send invoices to the state Attorney General’s Office for reimbursement but it is unknown when that transaction will be finalized.

Now stretching into its sixth week, the TMT protest shows no sign of dissipating. The state must also reimburse police departments from Maui and Honolulu, which sent personnel to assist Hawai‘i Police Department (HPD) officers in the early days of the demonstration.

Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the Attorney General, told Civil Beat the AG’s office has incurred more than $600,000 in costs for equipment, supplies, transportation and overtime for personnel in its own office.

In total, officers logged more than 45,000 hours of overtime between July 15 and July 31, 2019, alone. HPD Maj. Robert Wagner maintained community policing across Hawai‘i Island has not been impacted due to all the extra work.

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However, questions loom about the sustainability of the current police presence on Mauna Kea, both financially and in terms of officer workload.

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“That’s a crazy [figure],” said Pam Taylor, a Hawai‘i Island resident. “How can they continue to justify those kind of expenditures? It all falls on the taxpayer, and it’s our communities that will have worn out police officers who were already stretched too thin.”

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