Ironman donates $240K to county for police OT during 2-day race

Ironman is donating almost a quarter-million dollars to the Hawaii Police Department to cover the cost of officer services during the 2022 Ironman World Championship next month.

The Hawaii County Council during its meeting Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center accepted the $240,000 donation from Ironman to cover overtime costs to staff police officers at traffic points throughout West Hawaii during the first-ever two-day running of the grueling triathlon.


The Ironman World Championship will take place Oct. 6 and 8 with over 5,000 athletes who’ve qualified since the event was last held in 2019, prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic, ready to take on the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

“The addition of a second race has required a different methodology for the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) to staff the traffic points of the race, to include the use of overtime rather than special duty officers (SDOs), as authorized by the Mayor,” according to background information submitted with the request to accept the money.

Special duty officers are sworn Hawaii Police Department personnel who can be contracted during their time off to provide services for private entities, such as traffic control and security.

Ironman has contracted such officers for years, however, Finance Director Deanna Sako said the police department did not have enough officers to accept special duty, requiring the use of overtime to “ensure the safety of the public and the participants.”

Sako said the $240,000 is an estimate by the department of the cost it’ll incur providing the on-duty officers for both days of the race.

“If the amount comes out significantly different, we’ll go back to them (Ironman) and have a further discussion,” she said.

According to Hawaii Police Department Area II Major Sherry Bird, approximately 90 officers are needed each day of the race for various road closures and traffic points stretching from Laaloa Avenue in North Kona to Hawi town in North Kohala.

On a normal year, when the race is held only on Saturday, the department typically has enough off-duty officers to pick up special duty assignments. The addition of a second day of racing on Thursday, however, created an issue because most officers are working regular duty on that day, she said.

“We want our community to know that police operations are going to continue as normal during the two days of racing and, as always, we remain committed to the highest level of safety for our community, athletes and officers,” Bird said.

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