Growing up in Hawaii, I always felt incredibly safe. My sister and I were allowed to walk to school and to friends’ houses, and in the rare event that a violent crime was reported on the news, it was a shocking anomaly. Hawaii has long boasted one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the country, but recently there has been a disturbing trend of increasing robberies, assaults, and even murders.
Public safety and the increasing lack thereof across the state is a major issue that we must seriously contend with in order for Hawaii to remain a safe place for all of our Ohana. Unfortunately, District 22, because of its urban setting, high-volume of tourism, rampant nightlife scene, and years of neglect, is one neighborhood in our state in the most crucial need of public safety reform.
This is my plan to make our neighborhood safer:
Increase community policing
Work with State and County officials to make our streets safer
Prioritize mental health, addiction treatment, and job training in our prison system
Crackdown and on human trafficking and illegal gaming
Support increasing penalties for first-time DUI offenses
Too often, the relationship between residents and police is a contentious one of suspicion and mistrust. This is why I believe we should increase community policing. Community policing would mean the same law enforcement officers would be assigned to the same neighborhoods on a consistent, long term basis. The officers are no longer just county security guards, but rather actively engaged community members.
Community-based policing is a proven method to break the barriers between our neighborhoods and law enforcement. Police feel more invested in the people they’re protecting, and the community feels safer personally knowing the people who are protecting them.
My next initiative is to work with State and County officials to make our streets safer, especially in areas where crime is prevalent. This would involve working with officials to ensure proper measures are taken to protect residents when going out in Waikiki more dense neighborhoods.
State and City officials can work together to ensure that the community is safely lit in areas that attract crime, creating a nighttime environment in which our community feels comfortable being out and about in our neighborhood.
When addressing community safety, we must also look at those who have already been deemed a threat, sentenced to serve time, and anticipate their reintegration. This is why I will also be making mental health, addiction treatment, and job training a priority in our prison system. Without proper mental health treatment, addiction services, and job training, our prison is nothing except punitive which results in staggeringly high rates of recidivism and an increased threat to the community.
Our prison system needs to be a way to rehabilitate our community members so that when the time arrives for them to come home, their transition back into society is not only welcome but mutually beneficial.
Prison reform starts with how we treat our inmates. When they are in our custody, they are our kuleana.
One disparaging reality that affects many large tourism cities is the predominance of the criminal sex trade and illicit gambling. No district in Hawaii is as affected by these crimes as District 22. Cracking down on human trafficking and illegal gaming will be one of my top priorities for our community. If elected, it is my intention to introduce and support legislation that would not only make it easier to report crimes of this nature, but also to protect witnesses, victims, and those who report these activities. I will also strongly advocate for increasing penalties for violators.
Lastly, I intend to support increasing penalties for first-time DUI offenses. Too often DUIs are seen as negligible offenses where it is anticipated that if you are found guilty of a first-time offense, you will pay a fine, maybe do some community service, and in the worst-case scenario, have your license revoked for a determined number of months. But the truth is drunk driving kills people. With the prevalence of ridesharing, taxis, and cellphones, coupled with increased educational initiatives about the dangers of impaired driving, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be driving under the influence, and doing so should be considered premeditated endangerment.