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Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance in Identifying Pahoa Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect from a theft that occurred in Pāhoa on (October 2).

Have you seen this man?

The male suspect is shown in the photo wearing a black ball cap, black T-shirt, and jeans.

Police ask anyone with information on this individual to call Officer Terrance Scanlan at the Pāhoa Police Department number (808) 965-2716 or the departments non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record phone calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawaii Joins Multistate Court Brief Opposing Ban on Transgender Individuals in the Military

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s plans to ban open military service by transgender individuals.

Click to read brief

The amicus brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that banning transgender individuals serving in the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense, and harmful to the transgender community at large. The case, Doe v. Trump, was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The attorneys general argue in their brief that transgender individuals volunteer to serve in the armed forces at approximately twice the rate of adults in the general population, and that approximately 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserves identify as transgender.

In the brief, the attorney generals state that since adopting open service policies, “there is no evidence that it has disrupted military readiness, operational effectiveness, or morale. To the contrary, anecdotal accounts indicate that the positive impacts of inclusion were beginning to manifest, as capable and well-qualified individuals who were already serving finally were able to do so authentically.”

Additionally, the attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by Attorney General Chin for Hawaii, other states joining in today’s brief include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

A copy of the amicus brief is attached.

Big Island Police Searching for 18-Year-Old Puna Man Wanted in Burglary Investigation

Hawaiʻi Island police are requesting the public’s assistance in locating an 18-year-old Puna man wanted in connection with a burglary investigation.

Donald Kepner

Sought is Donald Kepner, described as Caucasian, 5-feet-10-inches, 150 pounds, blue eyes and blonde hair. Kepner is known to frequent the Puna area.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective William Brown at (808) 961-8883 or William.brown@hawaiicounty.gov

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Searching for Man Wanted for Sexual Assault and Outstanding Warrants

UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 30-year-old Jesse Coley who was wanted on outstanding warrants. He arrested this afternoon, (October 16), and taken into custody.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for 30-year-old Jesse Coley of Kapaau who is wanted for sexual assault and outstanding warrants.

Jesse Coley

He is described as Caucasian, 5-feet-8-inches, 180 pounds with blue eyes and dark hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Departments non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Puna Man Charged in Stabbing Incident

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 32-year-old Puna man in connection with a stabbing in Puna.

At 12:26 a.m., on (October 12), officers responded to a residence in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision to a report of a man who had been stabbed by another man who shared the same home.

The victim, a 34-year-old Puna man, sustained stab wounds to his neck and was taken by medics to the Hilo Medical Center in serious but stable condition. He was later flown via air ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Center on Oʻahu for additional treatment and has since been upgraded to good condition.

Michael Potee

At 12:40 a.m., the suspect, Michael Potee, was arrested at the scene and taken to the Hilo cellblock while detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section continued the investigation.

Friday evening, (October 13), Potee was charged with second-degree assault. He was released from police custody at 9:10 p.m., after posting $2000 bail and is scheduled to appear in District Court on (November 16).

Anyone who may have knowledge about the incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Scott Amaral of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2384 or Scott.Amaral@hawaiicounty.gov.

Saddle Road Fatality

A 49-year old Hilo man died following a 2 vehicle crash Saturday morning (October 14), in the district of Hāmākua.

His name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of his family.

Responding to a 7:21 a.m. call, police determined that a 2001 Dodge Caravan was traveling westbound on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road), near the 38-mile marker when he was overtaking vehicles and struck a 2015 Honda Fit that was traveling eastbound.

The man who died was taken to the North Hawaii Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:42 a.m.

The driver of the Honda, a 36-year old female of Mountain View, was also transported to the North Hawaii Community Hospital for her injuries and was listed in critical condition.

Police believe that speed was a factor and the man was not wearing a seatbelt. The female was wearing a seatbelt.

Police do not believe that drugs or alcohol were factors in this crash.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Casey Cabral at (808) 961-2329. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

This is the 27th traffic fatality this year compared with 23 at this time last year.

Ali’i Drive in Kona Shuts Down for the Weekend – Ironman is Here

HPD Police Traffic Advisory:
Ali’i Drive by Likana Lane to King Kamehameha Hotel, Kailua, Kona, from 8:00am today until Sunday 10-15-17 at 2:00 pm.

Former Mayor Kenoi Represents “Peaman” – Fine Dismissed

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) at its regularly scheduled meeting today reviewed a proposed administrative enforcement action against Kona resident Sean Pagett for organizing unpermitted fitness swimming events in Kailua Bay.

The Board voted to dismiss the fine upon receiving assurances from Pagett’s counsel, former Hawaii mayor William Kenoi, that Pagett will apply for a DOBOR permit, including obtaining required insurance coverage, for all future marine events he plans. The Board also voted to confirm that DOBOR rules do authorize the boating division, acting in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, to require and issue permits for marine events, including swim races.

DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said, “Our shared goal is safety for all. Kona is known for its land and ocean fitness events which draw hundreds of participants of all ages. We know they are popular and we support this activity. However, any event which places people onto land or in ocean areas where there is potential conflict with vehicles or vessels needs to be responsibly coordinated with appropriate agencies to be sure no one gets hurt or worse.”

The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) brought the proposed enforcement action which recommended the issuance of fines totaling $10,000 to Pagett for two violations of the permit requirement rule.

According to Underwood, “Mr. Pagett was aware that a permit was needed to hold these events but continued to hold them without a permit. Both DOBOR staff and our Deputy Attorneys General reached out to him, through his attorney, and offered that there would not be any enforcement action, as long as he agreed to obtain permits for future events. He declined our previous offer. We tried to work with him but had no choice but to bring an enforcement action to ensure he follows the law same as everyone and same as for all other marine events. We look forward to working with him on the permitting process.”

“Permits help DOBOR, the U.S. Coast Guard and ocean safety agencies to keep track of people and boats in the water, prevent potential conflicts and hazards to life and indemnify the state if there should be an accident. Unless there are consequences for violating state statutes and administrative rules, people do not have an incentive to abide by our rules and directions which are necessary for public safety,” Underwood added.

DOBOR officials said that Sean Pagett (also known as “Peaman”) formerly obtained permits but stopped when the insurance requirement changed. He has staged 350 events over the years that have included running, bicycling, swimming, or a combination of each in which there are 70-120 participants per event. Events involving swimming have typically been staged from, or around the Kailua-Kona pier, and swim portions of events take place within the adjacent designated Ocean Recreation Management Area (ORMA). The swim zone is marked by lines and buoys, to keep swimmers out of restricted areas around the pier used by boats.

In late 2016, DOBOR staff and DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) officers advised Pagett that a Nov. 27, 2016 swim-run race event was held without a marine event permit, using the swim zone at Kailua Pier, an administrative rule violation. The same morning a cruise ship moored offshore was ferrying 2000 passengers into the pier by tender, posing a potential safety hazard.

On December 12, 2016, officials met with Pagett and his attorney to discuss his events and ways to comply with permitting requirements. Pagett claimed the rule did not apply to his events since no fee was charged, participants did not have to register, and no prizes were awarded. He claimed participants were “a group of friends who gather to do timed events.” He was warned that continuing to hold events without a permit would be a violation of state rules and subject to citation and fines.

Then on December 25, 2016, Pagett held the “Peaman Birthday Bonanza” which involved a ½ mile swim and 3.9 mile run/walk race. He did not apply for a marine event permit from DOBOR, and no permit was issued to him. He was cited by DOCARE officers.

Hawaii Among 18 States on Brief to Protect LGBTQ Workers From Employment Discrimination

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 18 attorneys general, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Click to read brief

The attorneys general argue that their states have strong interests in protecting their citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers – particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. This is why the State of Hawaii is one of 18 states standing up for the civil rights of workers in Hawaii and across America,” said Governor David Ige.

Attorney General Chin said, “It is unacceptable in the year 2017 that someone could face employment discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. Period.”

The brief was filed earlier this week, on National Coming Out Day. In addition to Attorney General Chin, it was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

“Employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers not only deprives them of important economic opportunities—it also stigmatizes their most intimate relationships and thus ‘diminish[es] their person-hood,’” the attorneys general write. “Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State’s laws—for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State—and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The case, Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, involves Jameka Evans, a security guard at a Savannah hospital who was harassed at work and forced out of her job because she is a lesbian. Evans’ petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

A copy of the brief is attached.

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance Identifying Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information regarding the identification of a suspect involved in a theft of a lawnmower that occurred from a retail establishment in Keaʻau.

Police ask anyone with information on this individual to call Officer Bryson Pilor at the Pahoa Police Station number (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Support the POWER Act During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor urging Congress to support survivors of domestic violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and cosponsor the POWER Act (H.R. 1762).

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Domestic violence often hides behind closed doors and drawn curtains, but the problem is very staggering. In my home state of Hawai‘i, 575 domestic violence survivors reach out to local organizations seeking help every single day. Their stories are heartbreaking and too often, even if they are temporarily removed from their abusive environment, they often return to that abuser.

“Survivors can seek legal protection from their abusers, but they aren’t likely to do so – or to be successful – unless they have a lawyer. Just 32% of victims successfully obtain a restraining order without legal representation. I call on my colleagues to support the POWER Act, which requires every state’s U.S. attorney to promote and expand pro-bono legal services, specifically for domestic violence survivors.

“We all need to be more conscious of this problem because it’s happening in our communities. As we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us have the courage to confront the pervasiveness of this crime and take action to help provide survivors with the safety and security that they need.”

Background:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, including supporting Maui’s Women Helping Women, passing Talia’s Law, praising the Hawai‘i Text-to-911 program, and more.

The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 1762, the POWER Act, which would help connect domestic violence survivors with legal representation. For more information on the economic benefits of providing legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence, view the Institute for Policy Integrity Report, Supporting Survivors, here.

Hawaii Opposes Travel Ban 3.0

Today the State of Hawaii, Dr. Ismail Elshikh, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, and two prospective Doe plaintiffs filed a proposed Third Amended Complaint in Hawaii v. Trump. The proposed complaint was accompanied by a motion for temporary restraining order.

Click to read

As stated in the memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order:

On September 24, 2017, the President issued a proclamation that imposes an indefinite nationality-based ban on travel and targets an overwhelmingly Muslim population. The President has fulfilled his prior promises: He has issued a “larger, tougher, and more specific” version of the travel ban that this Court and the Ninth Circuit found violative of the Nation’s laws and most basic constitutional commitments.

It should come as little surprise, then, that the new order replicates all of the legal flaws evident in its precursors. It again openly “discriminate[s] * * * in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of * * * nationality.” It still fails, despite its elaborate rationalizations, to make any “find[ing]” remotely adequate to support its sweeping ban of millions of foreign nationals. It exceeds the limits on the President’s exclusion authority that have been recognized for nearly a century, by supplanting Congress’s immigration policies with the President’s own unilateral and indefinite ban. And it continues to effectuate the President’s unrepudiated promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.

Copies of the proposed third amended complaint and memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order are attached.

Big Island Mayor Requests Release of Money for Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to Governor David Ige on October 4th  requesting the release of money appropriated for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in 2018:

Dear Governor Ige,

This letter is a formal request for the release of $150,000 appropriated for the County of Hawai’i for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to use to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in the fiscal year 2018. This was authorized in the Hawaii State Budget, SB26, SD1, HD1, CD1, ACT 204 enacted on July 11, 2017.

The County of Hawaii is committed to the implementation of ACT 204 and looks forward to collaborating with other County and State criminal justice agencies in fulfilling the goal prosecuting and bringing justice to cases that involve career criminals. As provided for in the Career Criminal Prosecuting plan, we intend to fund eleven (11) positions described on the attached “Budget Detail” The Hawai’i County Council has approved the funding provided to the County in ACT 204 as an Intergovernmental Agreement between the State of Hawai’i and the County of Hawaii.

Please contact Lee Lord, Business Manager, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, County of Hawaii, at (808) 934-3315, if you require any additional information.

Sincerely,
Mayor Harry Kim

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Hawai`i Department of Health Approves Fourth Dispensary to Begin Retail Sales of Medical Cannabis

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a formal notice to proceed to Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Noa Botanicals is the fourth licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state (and the second on O‘ahu) to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The licensed retail center for Noa Botanicals is located at 1308 Young Street in Honolulu, and the dispensary expects to begin sales at the site this month.

“We are continuing to closely work with both the licensed dispensaries and private laboratories in each of the counties to help them meet all of the requirements as efficiently as possible without compromising product or patient safety,” said Keith Ridley, who oversees the medical cannabis dispensary program for the Hawaii State Department of Health.

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by the Hawaii Department of Health.

The other licensed retail centers are:

  • Maui Grown Therapies, located at 44 Pa‘a Street in Kahului, Maui, which was the first licensed dispensary in Hawai‘i to receive a notice to proceed on Aug. 8, 2017;
  • Aloha Green, in the Interstate Building at 1314 South King Street in Honolulu, received its notice to proceed on Aug. 9, 2017; and
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC, at 415 Dairy Road in Kahului, Maui, was the second Maui dispensary to receive a notice to proceed on Sept. 29, 2017.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure O‘ahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. The two Maui dispensaries include Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies; and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. The one dispensary located on Kaua‘i is Green Aloha, Ltd. Each licensed dispensary is an independent business and operates based on their individual business plans.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program is available at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalcannabis/.

Criminal Pretrial Task Force Public Meeting Announcement

The Criminal Pretrial Task Force will be holding a public meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 13, at Aliiolani Hale, 417 South King Street, room 101 on the first floor.

The purpose of the meeting is to gather input from individuals and interested organizations about criminal pretrial practices and procedures.

“We want to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to provide feedback to the task force,” said Judge Rom A. Trader, chair of the task force. “For example, we want to know if the current pretrial system is working. What needs to be done to improve it? What features would a highly-functioning and fair pretrial system have?

“We also welcome thoughts or suggestions relating to criminal pretrial reform for the task force’s consideration as it develops recommendations to the Legislature,” Judge Trader added.

House Concurrent Resolution No. 134, HD1 was adopted by the 2017 Legislature and requested the Judiciary to convene a task force to examine and, as needed, recommend legislation and revisions to criminal pretrial practices and procedures to increase public safety while maximizing pretrial release of those who do not pose a danger or a flight risk. The task force is also charged with identifying and defining best practices and metrics to measure the relative effectiveness of the criminal pretrial system, and establish ongoing procedures to take such measurements at appropriate time intervals.

Members of the task force represent a broad cross section of agencies who participate in the criminal justice system in different ways.

For those who are unable to attend the meeting, comments may be sent to  HCR134.Jud@courts.hawaii.gov by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 13. Include your name, contact information, and affiliation.

Anyone needing auxiliary aids or services to participate in this meeting (i.e., ASL, foreign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility) should contact the Judiciary Legislative Coordinating Office at 539-4893 at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Legislation Helps Provide More Body-Worn Cameras to Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Last week, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced the Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act of 2017.  This legislation would create a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights.

“We can’t restore trust between our communities and law enforcement without transparency and accountability. Body cameras alone won’t repair that relationship, but they have proven to be effective and can do a great deal to keep both police officers and community members safe and accountable,” said Senator Schatz

“Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve in our police force and the people they protect,” said Senator Paul. “The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police. The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian are respected.”

“Justice is supposed to be blind, but it is not supposed to be blind to the facts. Police body cameras can help provide evidence and restore some much-needed trust between police and the communities they serve,” said Congressman Cohen. “The cameras could show the officer’s actions for what they were, proving both lawful and unlawful activity. The vast majority of police are well meaning, dedicated public servants, and we depend upon them to keep us safe from criminals. But the fact remains some officers go beyond the law in a callous disregard for due process.  Their actions damage the public trust that is essential for good police to be able to serve and protect our communities. Police body cameras, alone, will not solve this problem, but they are an important step in the right direction. I would like to thank Senators Schatz and Paul for their leadership on this issue and for partnering with me on this legislation.”

The Police CAMERA Act of 2017 would establish a pilot grant program using existing funding to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with the purchasing or leasing of body-worn cameras. It would also authorize an impact-study after two years. The study would assess the impact body-worn cameras have on reducing the use of excessive force by police, its effects on officer safety and public safety, and procedures to protect the privacy of individuals who are recorded.

“The resulting benefits of the body-worn cameras after almost two years of usage have greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Darryl D. Perry, Chief of Police of the Kauai Police Department. “Not only have our officers embraced this technology wholeheartedly, but our community has commended KPD for being open and transparent.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 27-Year-Old Puna Woman

UPDATE:  Hawaiʻi Island police have located Sadie Ditus who was reported as missing earlier today (October 9).  She was found in good condition in Hilo at 11:00 a.m.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 27-year-old Puna woman reported as missing.

Sadie Ditus

Sadie Ditus, was last seen in Hilo (October 3).

She is 5-feet-8-inches, 115 pounds, thin build, pale complexion, with blue eyes and shoulder-length curly light-brown hair.

She is known to frequent and lives in the Pāhoa area.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Officer Terrance Scanlan at the Puna Police Station (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Searching for 65-Year-Old Man

UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located Robert McNabb who was reported missing, (October 5).  He was found in good condition earlier today (October 9).

Hawaiʻi Island police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a 65-year-old missing man.

Robert McNabb

Robert R. McNabb was last seen in the Hilo area on October 5, 2017.

He is described as part Hawaiian, 5’ 10”, 145 lbs, grey shoulder length hair, brown eyes, tan complexion, he was last seen wearing black colored jean pants and a black short sleeve shirt, carrying a back pack.

He resides in Honokaa.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Detective Kayne Kelii at (808) 961-2378 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300.

State of Hawaii to Introduce Bill for Free Credit Freezes

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced the office will propose legislation directing consumer credit agencies to provide security freezes at no cost to Hawaii residents. The measure will be introduced as part of the Governor’s Administration package during the next legislative session.

Recent events involving security breaches of databases containing sensitive identifying information, such as social security numbers and addresses, has shown that repositories of consumers’ personal information continue to be at a high risk of infiltration by identity thieves.  Although many consumers have taken proactive steps to protect their personal information by requesting consumer reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their credit reports, many have not done so due to the costs associated with obtaining a security freeze.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance consumer protections by allowing consumers to request a consumer reporting agency to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge, considering recent events involving security breaches of databases containing consumer identifying information. Consumer reporting agencies are allowed by state law to charge a fee up to $5 for each request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze.

“Our actions are based on doing the right thing to protect Hawaii’s residents,” said Governor David Ige. “When a business is designed to profit off of managing the public’s personal information, they have a good faith duty to protect that information—not solely on behalf of their shareholders but equally on behalf of their customers. This did not happen and the public is now at risk.”

“Our citizens should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles. The breach involving Equifax has shown that we cannot rely solely on companies to safeguard our personal information.  By encouraging people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach this bill will help to reduce identity theft in Hawaii,” added Steve Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Equifax disclosed earlier this month that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses—creating a perfect opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.

In announcing the breach, Equifax stated it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone. The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The Office of Consumer Protection has since announced an investigation into the massive data breach involving the consumer reporting agency.

In view of this breach the Office of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze on their credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. More information on Equifax’s credit monitoring and a guide to initiate a security freeze is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/equifax.

Additionally, the OCP states that consumers should:

  • Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

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