Mayor Caldwell announces Melvin Kaku as head of JTMC transition; Hirokazu Toiya named DEM Acting Director
News Release from Office of the Mayor, October 3, 2018
Honolulu — Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today that Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Melvin Kaku will assume a new role managing the transition of multiple city departments into the new Joint Traffic Management Center (JTMC), which is currently under construction. He has been the DEM director for 11 years. Prior to that, he served as the director for the Department of Transportation Services.
The city’s move into the JTMC will require collaboration and coordination with multiple departments on such things as communication installation, information technology, system stress testing, human resource deployment and a myriad of other details that must be taken into account when transitioning into a new state of the art building.
“I’d like to thank Mel Kaku for his many years of service with our Department of Emergency Management,” said Mayor Caldwell. “His tireless work ethic and engineering background will serve him well in his new position as we prepare to move multiple city and state departments, as well as non-government entities into the new Joint Traffic Management Center. Mel has demonstrated time and again his ability to work well with others, and I’m glad he will devote all of his time to make sure that the JTMC becomes a facility that all of us can count on during emergencies.”
“I am extremely honored that Mayor Caldwell asked that I take on the role of the transition director to ensure the smooth and seamless move by multiple city, state, and non-government agencies into the new Joint Traffic Management Center,” said Kaku. “In my new position I’ll draw upon my personal work relationships, along with my familiarity with agency operational requirements. My project historical background developed over my past 11 years of service will also aid in the facilitation of this transition.”
The Joint Traffic Management Center (JTMC) is a city and state collaboration to improve traffic management among five agencies: the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services (DTS), Honolulu Police Department (HPD), Honolulu Fire Department (HFD), Honolulu Emergency Services Department (HESD), and the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Transportation (HDOT). The JTMC is located at the corner of Alapa’i Street and King Street in Kaka‘ako.
Meanwhile, Hirokazu Toiya has assumed the role of acting director of the Department of Emergency Management as of October 1.
Toiya has been the deputy director of the Department of Emergency Management at the City and County of Honolulu since July 2017, and has been responsible for assisting the director in the management of the department’s day-to-day and emergency operations. Toiya works with staff to coordinate efforts with other city departments as well as state, federal, and non-governmental partners on all aspects of emergency management for the city. Toiya has experience with numerous activations of the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to include tsunamis, tropical cyclones, structural and wild fires, and high profile planned events.
“Hiro has time and again proven his leadership skills and ability to stay composed in even the most hectic situations,” said Mayor Caldwell. “We’ve been extremely lucky to have him working with us through these past two hurricane seasons, as well as this year’s devastating floods in East O‘ahu and Waimānalo. Hiro’s ability to lead within the City and County, as well as work with our neighbor island partners is a testament to his wealth of experience and knowledge. I am confident that Hiro will have no trouble transitioning into his position as acting director and will continue to move our Department of Emergency Management forward.”
“I am grateful to Mayor Caldwell for this opportunity to continue the work of my predecessors during this period of transition at the Department of Emergency Management,” said Toiya. “I am fortunate to be surrounded by capable staff at the Department of Emergency Management, as well as extraordinary leaders and individuals at all levels within the city who are committed to public safety. It is with great humility and honor that I take on the role of acting director to further the mission of the Department of Emergency Management.”
Prior to becoming the deputy director at Emergency Management, Toiya was the training and exercise officer for the department. His responsibilities included planning, and conducting and evaluating emergency management and response related trainings and exercises. Toiya has also worked in public health emergency management as the senior planner at the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. He was also responsible for working with state and local emergency managers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Strategic National Stockpile program.
Toiya received a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane University in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina. During his time there, Toiya was engaged in recovery activities including assessment of community needs, coordinating community health fairs, and managing a food pantry in an underserved neighborhood. Toiya is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering and has experience as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in Atlanta’s 911 system.
Feb 2018: City issues default notice to contractor of $53.6M traffic management center
July 2018: City Terminates Watts Constructors’ Right to Work on Joint Traffic Management Center
Aug 2018: City re-hires contractor, resumes construction of multi-million dollar traffic center