State transportation officials have terminated the services of Honolulu police officers at the Honolulu Airport.
As of Nov. 15, all 27 police officers stationed at the airport will be assigned to other divisions. And the state sheriff's officers will take over patrol and enforcement.
"It's unfortunate that after 20-plus years at the airport, it's coming to an end," Police Chief Lee Donohue said today.
However, police officers will be available when called. They will respond only to felony cases and life-threatening situations at the airport, Donohue said.
Donohue yesterday received a letter from Transportation Director Kazu Hayashida alerting him about the termination.
'"It's sad, we're ending a great relationship with the airport community," Donohue said.
Hayashida said the termination is a cost-saving measure.
"I think they did a great job as for as security," Hayashida said.
After employing state sheriff's deputies, the state will save about $500,000 to $700,000, he said.
When asked if the deputies were trained the same as police officers, Donohue said, "It's an unfair question."
Hayashida said he does feel sheriff's deputies are qualified, "otherwise, we wouldn't be doing this."
However, the officers assigned to the airport will have additional training.
There were 21 officers, five sergeants and one lieutenant assigned to the HPD's Airport Division. The number of sheriffs deputies has not been determined.
The termination came after several disagreements between police and the state.
Hayashida said in the state's opinion, there were too many officers in some areas during the slower late shift. However, Donohue felt the officers were needed to back each other up.
"The safety of our officers was first," Donohue said.
Donohue said the police department will lose about $800,000 because of the termination of the contract. However, the department is saving money because of an officer shortage. Donohue also said the contract termination will help the department cope with the shortage.
For the past few years, the state has been concerned with HPD's high overtime allocation at the airport.
However, Donohue said that the overtime situation has been handled.
Last September, the state and police negotiated a two-year contract that was scheduled to end in April 2000.