Honolulu Police Chief: Accidental Activation Of Emergency Sirens 'Unacceptable'

Sep 18, 2019

Updated: Sept. 19, 2019, 6:44 a.m.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard is calling the accidental activation of emergency sirens by her department on Wednesday "unacceptable." She said HPD is taking steps to prevent a reoccurrence.

Sirens sounded in parts of Oahu and Maui at 5:05 p.m. after they were set off during a Honolulu police training exercise.

The sirens spooked residents who remember the scramble for shelter after a false alarm went out in January 2018 warning of a missile threat.

Ballard said the department plans to take steps to address the training error.

"Especially after the missile crisis, it’s really unacceptable on our part. Unfortunately, we train on live equipment but after this particular accident, we will be exploring immediately buying equipment specifically for training so this will not happen again," she said Wednesday.

Andrew Pereira, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s communications director, said initially that the emergency sirens were malfunctioning, and that the Department of Emergency Management was aware and investigating the issue.

He also warned that sirens at locations besides the Kakaako area may have also malfunctioned.

The Honolulu Police Department then sent out an alert, calling the event a false emergency warning activation: "There was an accidental activation of the emergency warning siren system today at approximately 5:05 p.m. There is no current emergency." 

It wasn't immediately clear how far the sirens sounded but there were reports of the sirens in Waikiki, McCully, Manoa, Haleiwa and Hau'ula.

Brian Perry, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino's spokesman, confirmed a siren was set off in Kahului, and it was his understanding that the error occurred during HPD training.

Meanwhile, Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency officials plan to continue with the scheduled testing of sirens on Friday at MacKenzie State Recreation Area in Pahoa and Hilo Hillsides Estates on the Big Island.

The tests are set from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can expect to hear the siren sound in 30-second to three-minute intervals.