State briefs for February 8

Guardsman taking girl whose dad was killed in Big Island crash to dance

BEACH PARK, Ill. — A Northern Illinois kindergartener whose father was killed in a military training accident last year at the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) and Mamalahoa Highway (Highway 190) in West Hawaii has a date to her first father-daughter dance: A soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard.

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The Guard said in a news release that 5-year-old Cayleigh Hinton of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., attended Wednesday night’s dance with 1st Sgt. Joseph Bierbrodt of Sheridan, Ill.. The two were escorted to Our Lady of Humility School in Beach Park by a veterans’ motorcycle club and members of area police and fire departments.

Army Sgt. Terrence Hinton, who was based at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, died in May 2017 when a tractor-trailer truck crashed through a guardrail. Hinton, 36, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., served as a motor transport operator. He enlisted in the Army in 2009 and previously served at Fort Campbell, Ky., moving to Hawaii in 2016.

Hinton also deployed twice to the Middle East, to Afghanistan in 2010 and Kuwait in 2014, a total of 21 months.

Pfc. Marcus Smith, the 20-year-old driver of the tractor-trailer, was injured in the incident and taken to North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

Illinois Army National Guard spokesman Mike Chrisman said Bierbrodt has never met Cayleigh, but volunteered after he thought how much such a gesture would mean to his four children.

8 Honolulu police officers fired in 2017, department says

HONOLULU — The Honolulu Police Department told the state Legislature that it fired or recommended firing police officers 22 times last year in cases that ranged from allegations of sex assault, kidnapping, malicious use of physical force to illicit drug use, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Of the 22 cases, eight officers were discharged, while the rest remain either in arbitration or have cases pending.

The department has been under fire in recent years for officer misconduct. Last year, the department reported 24 cases, and the year before that, it reported 25.

In all, 76 officers were disciplined for misconduct in 2017, another dip from the year before when 81 officers were disciplined. In 2015, punishment was doled out to 76 officers.

Twenty-five of last year’s 76 discipline cases were earmarked for criminal investigation.

This year’s misconduct stats do not include the arrest of former Chief Louis Kealoha, who quit last year amid a criminal investigation and faces federal conspiracy and corruption charges.

The new chief, Susan Ballard, has promised to do a better job investigating cases where officers are involved.

Ballard couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but she told the Star-Advertiser in October that “too many officers that are fired for just reasons are returned to work, and some officers that are fired should not have been. Discipline needs to be done fairly and with just cause.”

Lawmaker proposes change to law on abandoned vehicles

HONOLULU — A state lawmaker proposed a law he says would help reduce the islands’ overwhelming number of discarded vehicles.

Rep. Cedric Asuega Gates’ bill would change current language that says counties “may” dispose of abandoned vehicles. The bill would change that to say “shall,” which would increase counties’ responsibilities to dispose of abandoned vehicles.

Counties would have to remove unsightly vehicles within 10 business days of receiving a complaint.

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Gates, an Oahu Democrat, also co-sponsored a bill that would create a fund encouraging the state and county to work together to solve the abandoned vehicles issue.

“I believe these measures are important as more funding and space is needed for storage, but a requirement of having to remove the vehicles must be included in any bill that is passed to see real change,” Gates said. “In the future I would also like to see a state sponsored junk yard where people can deliver their unwanted vehicles and receive money for the scrap value of any material exchanged.”