HPD says residents helped with firework citations but many are still reluctant to turn neighbors in

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) understands people are frustrated with the illegal fireworks that took place at the end of 2020, but said residents also need to be part of the solution.

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Officers say, they rely on calls and tips from the public but — because many people are reluctant to identify their neighbors — the culprits often get away with it.

“Nobody wants to dime out their neighbors,” said Capt. Stason Tanaka, HPD acting Major of District 8 — covering Waianae, Kapolei and Ewa Beach. “Nobody wants to say ‘you know Mr. and Mrs. Smith down the street are burning fireworks,’ because we all know the other 365 days of the year we’re going to have to live together.”

Capt. Tanaka said, HPD cited 66 people and arrested six others for illegal fireworks in 2020. He said, the help from the public is a big reason for many of the citations.

“Everything that we would need as officers to cite somebody or possibly arrest we had it – the written statement, the witness statement and the witness was willing to testify in court … That’s the kind of collaboration for us to properly cite and make an arrest legally.”

Capt. Stason Tanaka, HPD Acting District 8 Major

City Council Member Heidi Tsuneyoshi said, a discussion needs to be made on other effective ways to crack down on illegal fireworks.

“It is definitely a conversation that we need to start having again in a lot of detail to figure out how we’re going to address that,” said Tsuneyoshi, who represents Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa and Kahaluu. “And just find ways where we could do the enforcement without necessarily relying on neighbors selling on neighbors, which is always a complicated issue.”

One possible solution brought up at the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety is making illegal fireworks a civil penalty with fines — instead of a criminal penalty — because criminal cases are harder to prosecute.

“We all are also residents ourselves looking forward to trying to figure out a way to bring everybody to the table to get a little bit of a better resolution to this issue moving forward,” said Tsuneyoshi.

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