Hawaii County’s threat response impresses governor

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo Mayor Harry Kim talks with members of the media after the missile threat was confirmed as a false alarm Saturday at Hawaii County Civil Defense.

  • BRUCE ASATO/Courtesy of the Star-Advertiser Gov. David Ige appears before Hawaii news outlets Monday to deliver an address regarding Saturday morning’s false missile alert.

KAILUA-KONA — Gov. David Ige praised Mayor Harry Kim and Hawaii County’s swift response to correct Saturday’s erroneous ballistic missile threat alert that was issued to the public statewide.

“They were very quick to identify that it was a false alert and very quick to communicate that to Hawaii Island,” Ige said during a phone interview Wednesday morning. “Yes, very impressed with the emergency response of Hawaii Island.”


Ige said he thanked Hawaii County Civil Defense on Saturday because it did what should happen when an alert goes off. It activated the emergency operations center, everybody reported to duty and staff implemented the program to inform the public at the point when the threat was identified as a false alert.

Kim, a former county Civil Defense chief, said he’s not proud of the mistake and wished the state had done better. However, he is proud of Hawaii County’s Civil Defense and its standard operating procedures, regardless of the threat, natural or human.

“You must at all times, regardless of the situation, confirm the information, and that’s the first thing we did,” he said.

The mayor said they received confirmation from the state at 8:15 a.m., eight minutes after the alert went out, that it was a false report.

“We were told this was a human error,” Kim said. “We repeated it back to them and asked them to confirm.”

After that, Kim said Civil Defense worked to disseminate that information as quickly as possible, starting with a phone call to police dispatchers. At 8:24 a.m., 17 minutes after the alert went out, Kim declared via radio that the alert was false.

The impact to Big Island residents is something that also must be addressed, Kim said.

The mayor said the false alarm affected people differently. There was a lot of fear and anger, he said, and the trust in the state and emergency system is now tainted.

“We’ve got to work to re-establish that trust,” Ige said.

On Monday, Ige said he spoke with all counties and their emergency operation centers right after the event. At that point, there was some immediate feedback.

Since Saturday, Ige said, it’s been hectic.

“We have just been focused on doing our job. My primary responsibility and highest priority is the safety and security of our community,” Ige said. “So we have been focused on examining the system that we have and implementing actions that would assure that what happened on Saturday would not happen again.”

Ige’s message to Hawaii Island residents on Wednesday was the state will continue to protect the people of Hawaii 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We are focused on delivering quality services in every aspect to the community so that we can usher their safety and security and at the same time make investments that improve the quality of life on Hawaii Island and will continue to do so,” Ige said.

A couple of the new protocols already in place are:

• The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency ceasing its ballistic missile defense internal warning drill until a full review of facts and circumstances surrounding the false alert is concluded.

• Creation of an immediate process with a pre-scripted cancellation and false alert message, as well as imposing a two-step, two-person rule for TV, radio and wireless activation.

• HI-EMA also established better protocols and lines of communication throughout the system’s network.

On Monday, Ige signed an executive order appointing Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara to oversee a comprehensive review of the state’s emergency management enterprise and to immediately implement needed changes.

Kim said he is working with Hara and other officials involved in looking at the system.


“My only advise to the governor is to know the problem before we try and fix it,” Kim said.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.

  1. Steve Dearing January 18, 2018 7:44 am

    Only a demo rat would be impressed with a monumental demo rat failure.

    1. Mary Jo Bafile January 18, 2018 8:20 am

      I agree

      1. Steve Dearing January 18, 2018 9:20 am

        Again, we can and must do better, failure is not an option. Certainly this failure reflects one of many failures that has and continues to harm the residents of Hawaii. The first mistake was voting for a demo rat, second mistake was believing a demo rat and third mistake was trusting a demo rat.

        1. Hilo Jack January 18, 2018 10:36 am

          Its too bad your mother did not believe in abortion.

          $hithole scum like you do not deserve life

          1. Steve Dearing January 18, 2018 10:54 am

            You are a typical demo rat. This only further exposes demo rats for what they are and do, lie and destroy lives.

          2. Hilo Jack January 18, 2018 11:15 am

            You sure are a good one trick pony Stevie boy!

            There is nothing – and I repeat nothing more vile, useless and needing of total extermination that $hithole republicans the likes of you!

            The best example of death, lies and destruction is called a $hithole republican!

            If you take your head out of Trumps fat a$$ you might see something other than a $hithole!

          3. Steve Dearing January 18, 2018 11:18 am

            Hillary Clinton was not a Republican, she was a demo rat.

          4. Hilo Jack January 18, 2018 11:38 am

            What does Hillary Clinton have to do with anything here?

            Again, more $hithole republican diversion to truth.

            David Turpin is a republican – just like you.

          5. Hilo Jack January 18, 2018 2:02 pm

            I hear you are related to Carl Higbie.

            Blood brother no doubt!

    2. Sonny Poindexter January 18, 2018 10:47 am

      easy fix Steve ,move back to Texas

  2. windplr January 18, 2018 11:20 am

    Saw this on Twitter… (so it must be true, right?)

    Kim Jong-un: “I have a big button on my desk!”

    Trump: “I have a bigger button, and it works!”

    Hawaii Emergency Alert Guy: “Hold my beer…”

    1. Sundog January 18, 2018 12:07 pm

      Yesssaah ! “Better to laugh than to crack”.

  3. Scooby January 18, 2018 2:02 pm

    Typical Harry Kim response. But lets not forget Harry Kim himself took over fifteen minutes to alert police and put out a “radio” msg. Who listens to radio? Little kids on social media got the word out faster than all the adults combined.

  4. Poi January 18, 2018 4:52 pm

    “Trust” in government, what’s that? Interesting concept.

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