Friday, November 27, 2015         

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Kaneshiro affirms mission of public safety

The city prosecutor vows to work with legislators and others

By Leila Fujimori


Fourteen years after leaving the office, Keith Kaneshiro was sworn in yesterday as Honolulu city prosecutor by Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Paula Nakayama, a friend and former fellow deputy prosecutor.

Nakayama also swore in most of the 93 deputy attorneys Kaneshiro reappointed and six new deputies he brought in.

Kaneshiro named as first deputy prosecuting attorney Armina Ching, a deputy prosecutor since 1984. She has been serving as a deputy and performing screening intake for new cases.

Kaneshiro, bedecked with lei, answered questions from the media after the swearing-in ceremony at the Prosecutor's Office in Alii Place. He acknowledged 11 deputy prosecutors were not reappointed.

"I know it's been publicized that I fired people," he said. "I cannot fire anybody. I appoint people who are going to support the mission." That mission is "to promote and ensure public safety and order through effective, efficient and just prosecution."

Kaneshiro said he cannot discuss personnel changes due to confidentiality. "I'm sort of at a disadvantage because I cannot rebut any of these things."

Kaneshiro said he rehired 90 percent of the prosecutors.

"There's nothing political," he said, punctuating that by stating he reappointed his opponent, Don Pacarro, who was also sworn in, and many who supported him. But Pacarro said he was leaving Friday to go into private practice.

In describing his style as a prosecutor, Kaneshiro said, "I have to do whatever I can do to make the office successful. If I have to go to trial, then I'll go to trial, but a lot of it has to do with being an administrator. We'll work with the Legislature and with other agencies. Sometimes if you're tied up with a trial in the courtroom, you don't have the opportunity to do these things."

Kaneshiro shared that he has already undertaken work on a model state prescription drug monitoring law, and will leave in November for Philadelphia to work on finalizing the bill. He said that besides methamphetamine, prescription drugs are a major problem in Honolulu.

Newly appointed deputy Dwight Nadamoto, who had left the Prosecutor's Office around 1997, said of Kaneshiro, "I think he's a good prosecutor. I think he brought a lot of good ideas to the office."

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