HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu City Council is looking to raise money for the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) by tacking on a surcharge to traffic fines. They say all that extra money could be used to retain and recruit more officers.
Currently, money collected from the fines goes to the state, all of it. Council members are looking to raise the fines in order for the city to get some of that.
Council Chair Tommy Waters drafted the resolution because he says he’s worried about not having enough police officers patrolling the streets. HPD is short about 300 officers, and he says there’s no sign of that getting better.
“This is a way to try to help the police department to maybe raise their salaries. One of the things we talked about is possible bonuses to keep people employed here in Hawaii instead of going off to the mainland,” said Waters.
He says raising fines for traffic violations is a creative way to bring in money without raising taxes. The proposal has received preliminary approval from all the counties and it will then be submitted to the state legislature for final approval. As for how much to raise the fines, he’ll leave that to state lawmakers.
“I don’t think they like to be told by the county what they need to do. So I’m asking, I’m asking them to consider it, and we can work on a number as the process goes forward,” said Waters.
He says the hope is to bring in an additional few hundred thousand dollars a year. Those KHON2 spoke with like the idea, as long as the money is put to good use.
“I’m not averse to raising those funds that you mentioned in order to provide the police department with much needed equipment, training, recruiting ability,” said Nancy Kim, who lives in the Ala Moana area.
Higher fines should also be a deterrent for people to break the law and get more officers to enforce it.
“If it means more money, they might be more inclined to make it happen,” said Donovan Rowland, a Waikiki resident.
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KHON2 reached out to state lawmakers and HPD who did not comment.