Senator Clarence Nishihara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs released the following statement regarding the retirement of Public Safety (DPS) Director Nolan Espinda:

“Like many across the State, I too have lost faith in DPS and its leadership team’s ability to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our prison system. From the beginning, Director Espinda and the department were slow to implement proper safety protocols, such as testing for inmates and staff. Serious issues such as lack of personal protective equipment and unsafe conditions for uninfected inmates were never appropriately addressed by Director Espinda.

This lack of leadership and inability to guide the department through this pandemic has put us in the difficult situation that we find ourselves in today.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, I welcome the opportunity to work with Governor Ige in finding someone who has the qualifications and leadership ability to guide the Department of Public Safety moving forward.”

Gov. David Ige announced today that Dr. Bruce Anderson and Director Nolan Espinda will be retiring in September.

“Both directors have served admirably under extremely challenging conditions, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank them for their many years of service to the people of Hawaiʻi and wish them well as they retire and are able to spend time with their families,” said Gov. Ige.

“It has been an honor and pleasure to serve as Director under Gov. Ige, with Nolan and my other fellow cabinet members. In my retirement, I look forward to doing a lot more fishing and horseback riding with my wife, Debbie,” said Anderson.

Dr. Libby Char appointed Director, Dept. of Health

Gov. Ige has appointed Dr. Libby Char to serve as interim director of the Dept. of Health effective Sept. 16. Dr. Anderson’s retirement is effective Sept. 15 after 35 years of experience managing health and environmental programs in Hawaiʻi, including serving as the as director of the department under two governors.

Char is an emergency physician and graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi, John A. Burns School of Medicine. After completing residency training in California, she returned to Hawaiʻi to the clinical practice of emergency medicine at The Queen’s Medical Center. She provided administrative oversight for the City and County of Honolulu EMS system for many years.

Dr. Char currently focuses her efforts on developing systems of care, training, protocols and emergency response utilizing best practices in the pre-hospital environment. She provides medical direction for several EMS, Fire, and Ocean Safety agencies across the state of Hawaiʻi and is the current chair of the State of Hawaiʻi EMS Advisory Committee.

“Dr. Char brings experience in medicine and administration to the department during a time of great stress on the state’s healthcare system. I’m confident that she will step into the role with energy and passion for ensuring the health of Hawaiʻi’s people,” Gov.

“I am honored to fill the position of Director of Health for the State of Hawaiʻi. We are in a difficult position, with a heavy burden of COVID-19 affecting the health, well-being and livelihood of so many of us. We must move forward together, through collaborative efforts, caring for each other with a shared sense of purpose. In doing so, we will regain the health of our communities and our state,” said Char.

Her appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Dept. of Public Safety

Dir. Espinda’s retirement is effective Oct. 1. Gov. Ige announced that Maria Cook, the deputy director for administration will b

e temporarily assigned and has been granted signatory authority while Espinda is on personal leave through September. The deputy directors for law enforcement and corrections will continue in their capacities to oversee their division operations. Dir. Espinda will be available to provide advice remotely in the interim should the need arise.

Gov. Ige will announce an interim appointment to lead the department in the coming weeks.

The City and County of Honolulu and State of Hawaii will be partnering to provide a surge testing location to the Oahu community that will minimize impacts to the public and improve safety. The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, City and County Department of Transportation Services, and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) are coordinating a full closure of the H-3 Freeway between the Halawa Interchange and the Halekou Interchange to facilitate COVID testing on Tuesday, Sept. 1 and Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The closure must be coordinated with the federal government and notice will be provided once this is confirmed.

The closure of H-3 in both the Halawa bound and Honolulu bound directions would begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue to 6 p.m. on both days to allow time to set up the closure. During testing hours the inside lanes of the H-3 at the Harano Tunnels will be used to queue vehicles of those seeking to be tested for the COVID-19 virus. The outer lane would serve as access for emergency vehicles. To maximize testing efficiency, test stations will be set up on both the Kaneohe and Halawa sides of the tunnel to service both the north and south bound directions. After testing, drivers will be asked to continue on H-3 to the end of the closure, and can use alternate Koolau routes if necessary.

“This surge testing will help us flatten the curve once more,” said Gov. David Ige. “We’re all working together for the health and safety of our whole community. Use of the H-3 will provide space to allow as many people as possible to be tested.”

“One of the most important parts of this surge testing effort is making sure everyone who wants a test has access to a testing site,” said Mayor Caldwell. “Testing on the H-3 is a historic, first ever endeavor that will make a significant difference in getting more people tested. This will be made possible by all of our Federal, State, and County teams working together to make sure traffic in and out of these sites can flow smoothly. It’s not a small task to coordinate these sites, and I want to thank our partners at HDOT for clearing a path for as many of our residents as possible to get tested for COVID-19.”

HDOT has reached out to emergency services, TheBus, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) to notify them of the planned closure. The queuing will be monitored by City and State personnel at the Joint Traffic Management Center (JTMC), and information will be provided to the public on closure times and anticipated wait times.

HDOT encourages motorists to take alternate Koolau routes such as Likelike Highway or Pali Highway.

Estimated travel times and camera views for all Koolau routes can be found on

  • Flickr Photo Albums
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Hawai`i State Capitol
415 South Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

Copyright 2019 Hawai`i Senate Majority