Gov. Ige Announces New Public Safety Department Appointments

January 26, 2019, 7:29 PM HST · Updated January 26, 7:29 PM
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Gov. David Ige announced the appointment of veteran deputy general Maria Cook as the Department of Public Safety deputy director for administration. Cook will begin her new position on Feb. 1.

“Maria will bring valuable insight and experience to the department in her new role,” PSD director Nolan Espinda said. “She has a wealth of employment and labor relations experience and will provide effective leadership and accountability to ensure that the division operates efficiently.”

Maria Cook. Courtesy Photo.

Cook has 20 years of experience working in the Department of the Attorney General, representing the interests of the state’s Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, and other state agencies in all employment and labor matters. Cook has a wide range of experience in public employment and labor matters, including civil litigation and related appeals, agency appeals, workers’ compensation, and collective bargaining.

Director Espinda also reappointed Renee Sonobe Hong as deputy director of Law Enforcement, a position she’s held since January 2017.

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“I am humbled and grateful for the honor and privilege to continue to serve our community as part of the public safety team,” Hong said. “I am excited to continue working with our law enforcement, judicial, and other partners to promote the safety and well-being of the people of the State of Hawaiʻi.”

Renee Sonobe Hong. Courtesy Photo.

Hong recently served as the state sheriff for PSD. Prior to that, she was the deputy attorney general for PSD, Hawaiian Home Lands and the Housing Division, as well as deputy corporation counsel and a deputy prosecuting attorney.

Jodie Maesaka-Hirata was also reappointed as deputy director of Corrections, a position she’s held since January 2016.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve in Gov. Ige’s administration these past three years,” Maesaka-Hirata said. “I thank him and Director Nolan Espinda for providing me the opportunity to continue to work with the Department Public Safety to improve the lives of those incarcerated, through meaningful rehabilitative services.”

Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. Courtesy Photo.

Maesaka-Hirata previously worked for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney from 2014 until her appointment to deputy director for Corrections. She also worked for the Public Safety Department in various roles.

These appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.

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