East Hawaii News

Survey: Big Island Less-Safe, but Police Performance Improving

August 12, 2013, 6:16 PM HST
* Updated August 13, 1:56 PM
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The Hawai`i Police Department released their analysis today of a survey of police performance conducted in May of 2013.

According to HPD, positive responses about officers in the survey outnumbered negative responses in all but one area.

Respondents gave their most negative answers when posed the question “Are you satisfied in the way the Hawaiʻi Police Department responds to crime?” 41.6% of surveyors responded negatively to the question. Overall, that is a 0.2% improvement over 2010 survey results.

HPD Chief Harry S. Kubojiri appeared to address this concern in the “frequently asked questions” portion of the survey. Kubojiri, responding to queries by respondents over why police seem to take too long to answer 911 calls, stated:

“We are aware of the need to improve our visibility and response time. Unfortunately, the population growth of our island and the increased number of calls… have increased the time it takes to keep up… Fortunately, the county budget that was recently passed includes an increase of 10 new sworn positions (five each for Kaʻū and Puna). We hope that the additional officers will improve police presence and response times in those two districts.”

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Residents reported being increasingly happy when interacting with HPD officers in every category of the survey, with the largest improvement since 2010 occurring in resident’s comfort-level “contacting the Hawaiʻi Police Department to report a crime.” Respondents in the 2013 survey appeared nearly 12% more satisfied with HPD when it came to their comfort-level when reporting incidents to police.

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri speaking on June 21 before the Hawaii County Police Commission. Photo by Dave Smith.

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri speaking on June 21 before the Hawaii County Police Commission. Photo by Dave Smith.

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Although respondents noted improvements in HPD performance, residents taking the survey showed a decline in their view of the Big Island’s level of safety. Residents’ opinion of Hawai`i County’s overall safety-level declined 6.9% since the 2010 survey. Respondents also viewed the Big Island as less safe for visitors, with positive responses about visitor safety declining 3.9%.

The May 2013 survey caused controversy earlier this year when two Big Island newspapers, the Hawaii Tribune Herald and West Hawaii Today incorrectly reported negative results by using data from the year 2010 instead of 2013.

Headlines in both papers at the time claimed “Faith in isle police falters.” Police chief Harry Kubojiri noted their reporting errors during testimony before the Hawaii County Police Commission on June 21.

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A total 608 people provided answers to the May 2013 edition of the questionnaire.

Of the respondents, approximately 79% were over the age of 45. Less than 10% were under 35.

The largest number of respondents (24.5%) came from the Hilo area, followed by Kona (15.2%) and Hawaiian Paradise Park (9.9%).

To view a full copy of the survey results, visit HPD’s website.

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