Report Title:

Law Enforcement Officers; Civil Defense Functions; Liability Immunity


Provides law enforcement officers with immunity from liability while engaging in civil defense functions. (SD1)


H.B. NO.



S.D. 1






relating to state government.



SECTION 1. One of the policies and purposes of chapter 128 is that all civil defense functions of the State be coordinated to the maximum extent with comparable functions of the federal government, with those of other states and localities, and with those of private agencies of every type, so that the most effective preparation and use may be made of all personnel, resources, and facilities for dealing with any disaster or emergency that may occur. The legislature finds that there is a need to further clarify the protections afforded those law enforcement officers engaged in civil defense functions.

Law enforcement agencies have always played an integral role in the preparedness of the State under the civil defense system. After the tragic attacks upon the United States on September 11, 2001, and because of the ongoing strife in the Middle East, the nation has been warned to expect the continuation of the war on terrorism and an increased risk of further terrorist attacks upon the United States and around the world. In addition to ongoing preparations and activities relating to natural and man-made disasters and emergencies, the State, counties, federal agencies, military, and private agencies and entities have been coordinating preparations for protection and response and the development of the Hawaii homeland security advisory system and procedures to be used by all participants in preparing for and responding to potential or actual terrorist threats or attacks.

Pursuant to section 121—26, Hawaii Revised Statutes, members of the Hawaii national guard and militia are not liable, either civilly or criminally, for any act done by them in pursuance of duty. Pursuant to section 128-16, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the full—time active duty military and members of national guard units from other states who may be assigned to provide assistance to the State in a civil defense function also enjoy these same protections.

Currently, law enforcement officers engaged in a civil defense function do not enjoy these same protections, although they are asked to engage in the same, if not a more, dangerous role. Because of the current status of the law, law enforcement agencies are concerned over potential liabilities of their officers when responding to assistance requests from state civil defense and the military in support of critical infrastructure protection plans or responding to, or preparing for, a terrorist attack. This reluctance is preventing the State, law enforcement agencies, and the active duty military from exercising their functions to the fullest extent possible. Providing law enforcement officers with immunity will assist in facilitating the complete involvement and participation of all law enforcement agencies in civil defense functions. Such immunity will only be available to law enforcement personnel when engaged in a civil defense function.

The purpose of this Act is to clarify that the protections and immunities provided to the national guard under section 122-26, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and active duty military under section 128—18, Hawaii Revised Statutes, also apply to law enforcement officers when they are engaged in a civil defense function.

SECTION 2. Section 128-18, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (c) to read as follows:

"(c) Members of the United States army, air force, navy, marines, or coast guard on any duty or service done under or in pursuance of an order or call of the President of the United States or any proper authority, [and] the national guard from any other state ordered into service by any proper authority[,] to assist civil authorities engaged in civil defense functions pursuant to this chapter, or any law enforcement officer engaged in civil defense functions pursuant to this chapter shall not be liable, civilly or criminally, for any act done or caused by them in pursuance of duty in such service."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.