Years a priority and money already spent, South Kona Police Station still not a go

  • A sign indicating a police station on Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook stands in front of the unmanned substation. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The South Kona Police Substation in Captain Cook. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • The South Kona Police Substation. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Plans to build a South Kona Police Station remain unknown since the project was put off due to lack of funding, according to Hawaii County officials this week.

Construction planning for the station was deferred in 2010 after the county spent $1.4 million in bonds for the design and survey work in 2008. Now, several years later, former Hawaii County councilwoman Brenda Ford hopes to continue the charge in making the South Kona station a reality.


“We’ve been trying to get the station built for 14 years, but it will take bonds to build it,” Ford said.

At the time of the planning and design, HPD Administrative Chief Marshall Kanehailua said, the building was estimated to cost $6-11 million. If it were put out to bid now, he said, costs would have to be adjusted, as prices for materials have changed.

There was a political push at the time when the grant came in for the planning and design work for the station, Kanehailua said.

Ford was the driving force behind the construction of the South Kona station. In 2007-2008, she and Mayor Harry Kim worked together to acquire the land next to the current station, next to the Captain Cook Fire Station.

At the time, Ford said, she believed the issue was a matter of funding for staff.

“Funding is always the problem,” she said.

Kanehailua said South Kona is normally staffed with three officers, four maximum. He added a building of the proposed size would need to be staffed with several employees, including clerical and janitorial workers.

The proposed station, a two-story, 21,592-square-foot facility featuring four separate holding cells and a 10-lane firing range, was the original plan of construction. It was to be located on 5 acres mauka of Mamalahoa Highway, according to the project’s environmental assessment. Existing barracks at the Captain Cook police substation would be incorporated — that building was the Kona district police station before the Kealakehe station was built.

“I’m not sure why it was ultimately shelved by the county, but I do know staffing and the downturn in the economy around that time frame played a part,” Kanehailua said of the project.

The South Kona Police Station is a capital improvements project. In the past nine years, Kanehailua said, no CIPs have been built for the police department. The last big project completed was the Pahoa police station in the Puna District.

As the years have passed however, police needs have shifted. A substation in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates is now considered more of a priority than South Kona.

“The calls for service have gone through the roof,” Kanehailua said of the Kau community.

According to police, There were 3,711 calls for service in HOVE in 2017. South Kona had 4,441.

Kanehailua said South Kona will have slightly more calls for service due to Konawaena High and Elementary as well as Hookena schools.

There is a substation in Ocean View. Kanehailua said the department rents a one-room office space in the Pohue Plaza. A new substation has been submitted as a capital improvements project.

The department is asking for $150,000 for plans and design of the Ocean View substation and $1.5 million to build it out.

Police aren’t opposed to the continued efforts in expanding at the South Kona station.

“We look at, do calls for service justify the need?” Kanehailua said.

Ford, who is currently running for senate, said Ocean View needs a police station, not a substation.

“If I could do anything to get funding, state or federally, I will be working on that,” she said.

Other CIPs submitted by the department are: Public Safety Complex repainting, Kona evidence warehouse, holding cell improvements and East Hawaii firing range.


A police station in South Kona has been promised to the area since the early 1990s when Stephen K. Yamashiro was mayor. South Kona remains the only County Council district without a dedicated force. Police combine North and South Kona into one district for operations.

Former Chief Lawrence Mahuna said in February 2008 the station would be complete within five to 10 years after he was urged by the Hawaii County Police Commission to make the station a priority. Former Police Chief Harry Kubojiri in April 2010 said the project remained a priority.

  1. Pest Outwest April 13, 2018 3:56 am

    This state has a relatively high personal income tax, around 8%, along with a sales tax and a growing tourist-based economy with taxes on transient rentals, and yet seems to be constantly out of money. Maybe if they cut back some of these agencies that constantly mess up anyway, they’d have something left over for real needs, like, oh say . . . police.

    1. antifaHI April 13, 2018 6:35 am

      If the police and other agencies would actually enforce existing laws there would be less crime.

      1. Kaipo Wall April 13, 2018 9:00 am

        Starting with enforcing the laws about nitwit protestors staying off the roadway and not blocking visibility for drivers with their stupid signs . Can’t wait to see the first motorist involved in a distraction view plane obstruction accident sue the kukai out of those people and their organizations . It is shameful that local Kona HPD allow that dangerous behavior to go on . Endangering the public roadway is criminal conduct .

        1. antifaHI April 14, 2018 7:47 am

          So does selling donuts, dried ahi, and pitbull puppies. That gilded moronic angel above it all also blinds people. What about the vet in his motorized wheel chair zooming on the curb there? The mynahs picking insects off the road are a major hazard as well. Ever slipped on a crushed mongoose? When it rains the road is wet and dangerous…you idiots want to have LESS government, but MORE if it enforces your political agenda. The Tea Party protesters LOVED that very spot. Waved their flags smack into windshields.

  2. metalman808 April 13, 2018 7:20 am

    Well at least someone? Got 1.4 million in design and survey cost.

    1. Pest Outwest April 13, 2018 3:08 pm

      Oh, the government does real well spending money that never results in anything. Give them full credit there.

  3. Russell G April 13, 2018 11:10 am

    All those years on the council and Brenda Ford couldn’t get one police station built. And now that’s all she’s running on. I hope the people of Kona are wise enough not to send a get-nothing-done retiree to the senate.

    1. Rusty Da Clown April 13, 2018 11:11 am

      We already sent a get-nothing-done retiree to the Mayor’s Office. Hope we learned our lesson.

      1. Scooby April 13, 2018 12:35 pm

        Harry will build igloo’s not police stations.

  4. Buds4All April 13, 2018 6:11 pm

    Can’t we just put up tents like Sheriff Joe….?

  5. Big ideas April 15, 2018 7:11 am

    Have you ever seen a State piss more money away than Hawaii?

    Maybe Illinois…

  6. April 15, 2018 9:11 am

    Ford did a lot of talking out of her big mouth and did little that was positive or lasting. If we use the 27 – 30% pay raise the county council and department heads just took for themselves, I bet we could get something done for the people they are supposed to be serving, like a start on this police station. By the way, Kona is STILL under a water use restriction – and not one person in the water department has been replaced. WHY???? We reward incompetence in this county. When is enough, enough? Please, Kau, DO NOT RE-ELECT FORD!!!!!!

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