Letter: About the Budget

Dear Editor,

I woke up at 5 this morning, drank coffee, finished some notes and headed out to testify on the Mayor’s budget.  Of course I was a day late, so after reminiscing with another guy who had also thought Tuesday, I’m sending out some thoughts while they are fresh in mind.

I’ll try to summarize, and am rounding off numbers and mostly going by the actual costs of 2013-14 because we don’t know the actual costs of this current fiscal year.  I believe the totality of the mayor’s budget is less than 6% increase from the previous year.  Right away I find several conflicts, mainly the projected increase of employee pensions and contributions rises from $56.5M (13-14) to 87.2M in 2017-18.  That alone is an average of 6.14M a year, more than 6% increase.

Add to that the police budget from 121.3M in 2014-15 to 134.1M in 15-16.  That is a 12.7M increase in one year.  It is explained in the letter accompanying the budget as mostly an increase in subsidized vehicle insurance, buying 100 mobile data terminals (cell phones?) and replacing 100 guns.

I looked into the written goals of the police department: to protect life and property, involve the community in crime prevention, gather evidence to solve crimes, return stolen property, aid in prosecutions and at the bottom of the list are enforce traffic laws and other.   

Then I noticed further goals for the different departments, and the actual completion rates for these goals.  I was horrified, and I did mention it in my testimony last month, that the Hawaii County Police Department only has goals of 30% in solving Burglaries and Thefts, 60% Robbery and 80% Sexual Assaults?  I’m not sure what the goal of solving murders is, but I saw where they responded to 3 murders, and are giving evidence on 1 to the prosecution.  That seems about 33% to me.

As I dug further I was wondering why they are not able to solve more crimes?  After all, we hear it is the same people in many subdivision thefts, and we hear about the same crack houses operating for years at a time in the same location, how hard can some of it be?  

Well, I think I figured something out.  First off, there are only like 3 criminalists and 37 detectives, while there are 306 patrol officers.  And our Federal and State governments ensure that those 306 patrol officers are busy overtime performing revenue generating, seat-belt checks, DUI checks, cell phone stings, and so forth.  Don’t tell me they don’t have quotas.  The police received 16 grants this year, 9 of them are for traffic revenue compliance operations totaling almost $550K.  Additionally there were 3 grants for crimes against women for $150K, 1 Tobacco/eCig sting grant of $8K, 1 grant for Meth operations $125K, 1 grant for State Narcotics Task Force of $125K to eradicate 60,000 pot plants which is supposed to be taken of the budget as it is a mistake, and 1 Justice System Grant for technical equipment and training which perhaps will not happen now that Obama declared a stop to militarizing the police.

I notice that there were supposed to be a number of hard drug investigations initiated, as well as attendance at some hard drug conventions, which were not attended. There seem to be no grants forthcoming and no money to be made solving actual crimes, but plenty to be made by extorting the drivers in Hawaii County, and forfeiture of real property if the opportunity presents itself.

I think it would be nice if the County Council would decline those traffic related revenue grants, and instead have the police follow their stated goals, and see if we can actually solve more real crime in line with their stated intent.


Sara Steiner

12 replies
  1. Damien007
    Damien007 says:

    When criticizing any organization its always traditional to ascertain information to compare and not simply opine without data.

    Are you aware of the national average in making arrests and getting convictions on the crimes you mention? I think not!

    Sounds like you recently got charged with a traffic violation and are now trying to “vent” and place your frustration on the police, typical for someone try to “sensationalize” by stating terms such as “real crime”, “crack houses” and “militarizing” the police when “crack cocaine” has not been in vogue for over two decades here in Hawaii. Nor do you actually know what (in your own words) technical equipment the police are acquiring, but you obvious have an agenda.

    No sorry Ms Steiner “real crimes” are being solved here on the Big Island and at a rate higher than the national average only you don’t want to acknowledge this as true, well only because of the traffic violation, isn’t that true?

  2. Sara Steiner
    Sara Steiner says:

    Thanks for printing my letter. Could you please remove my phone number as it is a family plan from my sister.

  3. Sara Steiner
    Sara Steiner says:

    Dear 007,

    I thought I posted a reply yesterday, but it was not printed.

    I am not disgruntled about getting a ticket, if you read through my entire letter you will see that I believe our Police are capable of solving more crime if they were not commanded to meet revenue generating quotas.

    All it takes is the County Council to refuse the grants, as they are instrumental in accepting them in the first place, and the Mayor instructing the Police Chief to instruct personnel to adhere to the stated goals of the police department.

    Wouldn’t you rather have crimes solved than seatbelt stings?

  4. Damien007
    Damien007 says:

    Ms Steiner, what proof, if any do you have to further your statement of “commanded revenue generating quotas”?

    Have you ever sat in a shift briefing and heard that from the rank? I think not!

    Your thought process of refusing grants, is simply wrong! Grants assist our Police Dept. with doing their job, just not the selective job you want performed!

  5. Puna Ohana
    Puna Ohana says:

    007 must be on the payroll. All one has to do is put MISSING in to the search window of this website to see how many crimes go unsolved. Or what about All the assaults that go unprosecuted?
    The burglaries are too numerous to count, never heard of anyone getting their stuff back. Not in HPP, not all the houses around me. I hear about it when they get robbed, then they’re told by the cops they can call/pay for a Police Report in a month or two-six. With all that money you think they’d hire a second person in the Record’s Dept.
    Reality is in real life Police work looks nothing like what happens on TV. Crime does pay, look at politicians, top of the list. Steal, murder and assassinate.
    Theft on a Too Big to get arrested scale.
    Ain’t Amurcuh Great!? Who arrests the cops/politicians?
    Still have idiots hot roddin all over HPP all hours of the day. Nuthing the cops can do with a 45 minute response time, IF all 6 of them aren’t busy. And IF dispatch doesn’t hang up on you or you aren’t placed on hold.
    If I had a daughter I’d teach her to shoot a gun because a TRO is just a worthless piece of paper.

  6. Tom Young
    Tom Young says:

    I tend to agree with both Sara Steiner & Puna Ohana. I’ve kept up with crime and police and court response to it, and rural Big Island is in trouble. There are far too few police to cover our vast expanse of land. The frustration, beyond being a victim, is to recognize where the blame lies. Of course, it belongs first and foremost with the criminals, themselves, but given that that’s an unmanageable aspect, we take it to the next level which often entails blaming victims or one another for the discrepancies, ie: “if only they would (fill in the blank).”

    Approaching our problem as adults, we’re convinced that the problem is a compilation between two entities: 1) Far too few police and 2) not enough prison space. Both require money, so the bigger questions are, “why have these two entities been ignored and secondly, who’s been ignoring them?”

  7. Sara Steiner
    Sara Steiner says:

    We have enough police, they just should focus on the stated goals of the police department, where revenue generating compliance stings come last, lowest priority if you will, after the missing, murders, thefts, robberies, rapes, and other crimes with victims are solved.

  8. Sara Steiner
    Sara Steiner says:

    And we definitely do not need any more prisons. America has 5% of the population, but 25% of the prisoners already. I bet a large percentage of prisoners are there because they violated their probation by smoking weed, a victimless crime, or some other drug of “their choice” and not because they hurt an actual person.

    The state continues to criminalize more behaviors in the name of safety for us citizens, actually raising revenues for state, while ignoring true crime.

  9. Tom Young
    Tom Young says:

    While I agree that many of the incarcerated population are there over some petty, victimless crime (such as smoking dope), we are in disagreement about police coverage in Puna. The national average is one officer per 500 citizens while here it’s one per 1,667.

    If you’re comparing to Hilo, it’s an unfair comparison. Rural Puna & Ka`u are under siege.

  10. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    The USA has 5% of the world’s population.
    And I agree with Sara’s view that there are more than enough police and jails.

  11. James Weatherford
    James Weatherford says:

    Police priorities, IMO: protection of life and property.
    Basically, violent crime and theft.

    More prisons we do not need. We have so many and still we have some much violent crime and theft.

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