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Ige addresses death threats to emergency department

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Gov. David Ige appeared today before news outlets to deliver an address regarding the false missile alert.

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    Hawaii National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara

Gov. David Ige apologized to the state again today during a televised address about the false missile scare on Saturday and promised it will never happen again.

“Let me be clear, false notifications and waiting for what felt like an eternity will not happen again,” he said. “You have my promise on this.”

It was his third apology in as many days.

In addition, Ige said he will not accept scapegoating of emergency management personnel after the department said it received numerous death threats. Ige said a number of errors contributed to the event.

“Death threats are completely unacceptable and not how we do things here,” he said. “I am the governor and these good, decent emergency personnel work for me. I am ultimately responsible.”

He said the state was “hamstrung” by a number of factors to get a correction to the errant alert out quickly and the incident revealed the need for additional improvements to the state’s system.

Ige signed an executive order today starting the process for a review of Saturday’s false alert and a plan to improve the state’s emergency preparedness.

Ige said he has appointed Hawaii National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara, the state’s deputy adjutant general, to conduct a “comprehensive review” and to provide an initial “action plan” in 30 days and a formal report in 60 days. Hara is also tasked with improving preparedness in the state.

“Children going down manholes, stores closing their doors to those seeking shelter, and cars driving at high speeds cannot happen again,” Ige said. “We will do a better job of educating the public.”

The governor’s order is the latest response to the colossal blunder that caused Hawaii residents and tourists to spend a terrifying 38 minutes Saturday thinking that a nuclear attack was imminent all because a state employee in a Diamond Head bunker clicked his mouse twice.

The mistake shocked many in Hawaii and elsewhere and left them questioning the credibility of the government that they count on to protect them from geopolitical woes like heightened tensions with North Korea.

Hara’s probe will augment Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s internal investigation, which is being lead by Toby Clairmont, the agency’s executive officer.

“We need to identify exactly what happened, why it happened, and how it can be addressed. In the end, we expect to be able to take effective action to fix the problems we identify and ensure better performance in the future,” said Richard Rapoza, HI-EMA public information officer. “Our investigators are working today.”

Rapoza said HI-EMA would share its report with anyone who expresses an interest, including presenting preliminary findings to legislators Friday morning and publishing the final report online for the public.

HI-EMA and the governor’s investigations are in addition to a probe being conducted by the Federal Communication Commission, which issued a stinging rebuke Sunday to Hawaii’s emergency management and announced that it had commenced investigating the incident.

“We are not aware of any agencies other than the FCC conducting a review or investigation of our operations,” Rapoza said. “The state could possibly face further actions from other entities.”

Cindy McMillan, Ige’s spokeswoman, said Ige’s office has not been contacted by the FCC.

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