HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard told city council members that 2020 was already off to a bad start.
After reading off violent crime statistics, she said the numbers hadn’t changed much from years past.
“People are afraid they really are,” said council member Tommy Waters. “I’ve had people tell me they don’t want to walk their dogs anymore in Hawaii Kai because they feel like they’re going to get their purse snatched, and there are robberies and we hear about the shooting going on.”
City council asked Chief Ballard what was needed from them so Oahu residents could feel safe.
She said staffing has been HPD’s biggest issue.
“I want crime analysis in every single division so they can look at numbers and trends and what’s going on what’s the best recommendation and how can we address this,” she said.
She listed statistics from 2018 to 2020.
“What’s a bit concerning is that from 2018-2019 robberies with guns increased 45 percent,” she said.
“January 2020 looks bad to be completely open and honest with you.”
She said the gun issue would be difficult to tackle due to “80-percent guns” being purchased online.
“We’re really pushing a lot of the gun legislation but we’re seeing a troubling trend in 80-percent guns,” Chief Ballard said.
She said her department wanted to see how easy it was to buy one and put it together. “It’s pretty easy, you can get it online and it doesn’t matter if you’re a felon or a domestic violence suspect, they’ll ship it to you, they don’t care.”
She said another issue her department faces is keeping police officers in Honolulu.
“San Francisco pays $35,000 more than what we pay,” she said.
HPD will not start to track who is being targeted by thieves whether it’s tourists, elderly or local residents.
“It’s a crisis that’s finally reached a level where we’re all feeling it, whether you’re rich or poor to have grandma standing at a bus stop and to be beaten down by people stealing her purse it’s just unacceptable for Hawaii,” said councilwoman Kymberly Pine.
Pine believes lack of inspection at ports is also to blame for the uptick in crime. She said it’s easy to ship drugs and other illegal items, like aerial fireworks, here.
“Regardless if you have a positive or negative view on aerials, you see it every New Year’s Eve, it goes to show you how many illegal things are getting into Hawaii and in our ports,” she said.
City council said they’d help HPD in any way they could.
“We have a very serious problem, I think we’ve hit the height of it and if we don’t fix it this year, the following years will be where we become a place of chaos,” said Pine.