By CHELSEA JENSEN
Big Island police continue to see a drop in burglary reports in Kona and South Hilo following the apprehension of a group police say were responsible for a crime spree.
In August, the Kona District, which includes both North and South Kona, received 62 reports of burglaries compared with 18 in September and one thus far in October, Hawaii Police Department Assistant Chief Henry Tavares told the Hawaii County Police Commission on Friday. In South Hilo, August saw 43 reports compared with 23 in September.
Area II Assistant Chief Paul Kealoha, who oversees West Hawaii operations, said the decrease can be attributed to the department apprehending a “small group committing a large portion of the crimes.”
Police have identified a trend associated with the spike in burglaries this summer.
“We are noticing our burglaries and crimes are driving cross-island,” explained Tavares. “The same burglars are committing burglaries in Kona and Hilo.”
Tavares implied that the improved Saddle Road could be a cause, but said police do not know that for certain; officers are looking into the issue.
“We are looking to contain this trend,” he said.
No public testimony was given during the commission’s monthly meeting held Friday at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona. The next meeting is slated for Nov. 16 in Waimea.
The commission, following an executive session, also found insufficient evidence of misconduct on the behalf of an officer who cited a Kahaluu for-donation artist for soliciting business in a county park.
Joel Piller filed a complaint with the commission on Sept. 5, claiming his constitutional and civil rights were violated when a Hawaii Police Department officer cited him on Aug. 29 for soliciting business in a county park.
According to the county code, engaging in or soliciting any business in park areas, except in accordance with the provisions of a permit, contract or other written agreement with the county, is prohibited.
However, because Piller offers his art “for donation,” which he says is clearly posted, the 41-year-old street artist contends the code does not apply to him. He also said the officer gave the citation without doing an inspection of his activities.
While the complaint may go no further, Piller said he is awaiting his day in District Court on Nov. 8, where he will contest the citations, as he has twice done before after being cited for peddling at Kahaluu Beach Park.
“The courts is where I’ll win,” he said, adding the two prior charges were dismissed with prejudice.
In other police news:
The department is compiling its budget for fiscal 2013-14 and expects to submit it to the county on Nov. 1. Assistant Chief of Administration Marshall Kanehailua said the department doesn’t anticipate a large increase in the budget compared with this fiscal year’s current $53.9 million budget.
In mid-November, the department will go before the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies for a final panel review.
About six people will travel to the conference in Florida, including Police Chief Harry Kubojiri and a representative from the mayor’s office. The department has already received a positive recommendation from an initial CALEA assessor.
“I’m confident we will come back in the third week of November with accreditation,” Kubojiri said.
Email Chelsea Jensen at email@example.com.