By NANCY COOK LAUER
Hawaii County residents are less comfortable calling the police to report a crime than they were four years ago, and many are ambivalent about the Hawaii County Police Department’s ability to serve community needs, according to survey results the department released Thursday.
Just under 64 percent of the 370 people who responded either agreed or strongly agreed they felt comfortable reporting a crime to police. That’s down from 71 percent of 340 people who felt the same way in 2009.
When it comes to the department’s ability to serve the community‘s needs, 31 percent, or 114 people of the 367 who responded to the question felt neutral, while 138 people — 38 percent — either strongly agreed or agreed.
In 2009, 26 percent, or 88 of the 339 respondents, felt neutral while some 152 people — 45 percent — either agreed or strongly agreed they are confident in the department’s ability to serve the community’s needs.
The 38-question anonymous online survey was conducted between Dec. 1 and 31. A total of 391 people, or 0.2 percent of the island’s population, participated in the survey.
Questions ranged from overall feeling of safety and confidence in the department’s ability to the survey taker’s own experiences with police officers and civilian employees.
Information from the survey will assist police in determining the department’s strengths and weaknesses. It also helps police identify problem areas; determine whether those issues can be rectified via specific training; make changes to policies and procedures, if deemed necessary; and clarify any misinformation regarding laws or police practices, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said.
In contrast to last year, Kubojiri said the department would respond in writing to the most common concerns and complaints expressed by those who took the survey. The responses will be posted online at a later date.
“The survey helps us to improve our services to the community because we are here to serve you. Our profession is law enforcement but we are members of the community,” Kubojiri said in a statement. “We can always use improvement and the best person to give us our report card is you — the members of the community.”
Kubojiri, however, declined to comment specifically on survey questions until he had a chance to review the survey thoroughly.
While almost the same percentage of survey takers agreed the island is a safe place to visit and work as in 2009, more respondents either agreed or strongly agreed the island is a safer place to live. In 2010, 273 of the 391 survey takers — 70 percent — agreed or strongly agreed versus 249 — 67 percent — in 2009.
However, when it came to confidence in an officer’s ability to resolve a situation reported to police, 60 of the 301 people who responded to the question felt neutral about the ability of officers. Forty people strongly agreed, and 45 people strongly disagreed an officer helped resolve a situation reported to police.
Survey takers also agreed both officers and civilian employees showed professionalism, integrity and compassion. When it came to doing an excellent job, survey takers were neutral regarding officers, but agreed civilian employees did an excellent job.
To view full survey results, visit hawaiipolice.com.
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.