HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) will be closing its COVID-19 enforcement hotline and email at the end of February, 2021.
HPD made the announcement on their social media accounts on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The hotline and email will officially close on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. After that, the public will have to call 911 to make a report on a COVID-19 violation.
Since opening in August, the hotline has received 32,471 phone calls and emails with nearly 10,000 contacts about COVID-related violations. The rest were requests for general information.
HPD officers assigned to the COVID-19 enforcement team initially received about 100 daily phone calls and 15 daily emails to respond to complaints about emergency order violations. The numbers have decreased to an average of 10 calls and one or two emails daily in recent weeks.
HPD said the decrease is likely due to public compliance and the easing of restrictions.
However, Watchdog group Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers said, they are still getting tons of reports about people not following the rules, however.
“We have so many complaints of no masking in businesses, and also, no masking in popular thoroughfares with visitors and locals. Both are at fault. We worry though about all the parties that are happening now that clubs aren’t open. There’s a lot of parties going on and we get a lot of complaints about it,” said Angela Keen, Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers administrator and owner.
Some residents say they do not think the HPD COVID-19 hotline was too helpful since they were unable to report anonymously. One resident said, HPD requires the caller to be there at the scene before police arrive.
“They always tell you, you always gotta be there,” said Mililani resident Marshall Lum. “So, it puts the resident in a bad situation where you’re trying to turn in someone you know or your neighbors or something like that and you don’t want to actually be there.”
Lum said, he stopped making calls after a while because it was difficult to report and the police would not come.
Keen said, a separate task force should be in place to help out in situations like these.
“I’d really love to see some sort of task force put together with volunteer citizens who can be a part of it, legally, and who can be able to make those citations or at least assist law enforcement,” said Keen.
HPD said it can reactivate the hotline if it is needed again.
Click here for more information on current emergency orders and rules.