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Body Found in Water Off Kalapana Reclassified to Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police have reclassified a coroner’s inquest case to a murder in connection with the discovery of a body Tuesday (May 28) in waters off Kalapana in the Puna District.

HPDBadge

An autopsy conducted Wednesday (May 29) determined that the female victim died of strangulation and that the manner of death was homicide.

Police have not yet identified the body, described as that of a Caucasian woman possibly in her late 20s or early 30s, about 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8 with a slim build, short brown hair and a tattoo of “Veritas” on her lower back.

Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Section are continuing the investigation.

Police ask that anyone who may know the victim or have information on this case contact Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386or ralmeida@co.hawaii.hi.us or Detective Fetuutuunai Amuimuia at 961-2278 or famuimuia@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona 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 Community Meeting with the Hawaii Police Department

The Hawaiʻi Police Department will hold a community meeting on Tuesday, June 19, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Keaʻau Community Center.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow the public to meet the Police Department’s command staff and to discuss police-related concerns with the police chief and commanders who oversee police operations in the Puna District.

The Puna event continues district community meetings, which are rotated throughout the eight police districts on the Big Island. To aid police commanders in focusing on specific community concerns, they ask that participation in this meeting be limited to persons who live or work in the Puna District.

Those interested in participating but unable to attend may e-mail their concerns or comments to copsysop@hawaiipolice.com.

For more information, you may call Lieutenant Reed Mahuna at 965-2716.

Hawaii County Police Awarded Funding for Six New Officers for Rural Areas

The County of Hawai`i has been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire six additional police officers, Mayor Billy Kenoi announced today.

The COPS grant application process is highly competitive, and the County of Hawai`i was awarded $1,392,336 to cover salaries and benefits for six officers for three years. A total of $243 million was awarded to communities across the nation, according to an announcement by the Department of Justice.

“The six additional positions for the County of Hawai`i will be used to add officers and increase patrols in the Puna District and other rural districts where the populations have been growing, and where the demand for police services has grown,” Mayor Kenoi said. “This will help to protect the public, and make our communities safer. We want to thank the Department of Justice, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and our entire Congressional delegation for this assistance.”

Hawai`i County Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said the funding will be used to hire, train and field the officers, who will be deployed to rural areas that have shown the largest increases in calls for service.

“Especially in these difficult economic times, this grant represents an important boost for public safety,” Chief Kubojiri said. “We have asked our officers to do more with less, and they have responded. We have seen an overall decline in reported crimes in the county over the last decade, but there are some areas including Puna that have seen an increase in calls for service. There is much more to be done, and the entire community will benefit from these additional police officers.”

The last increase in the number of police officers in the county was in 2004, when 10 officers were added in Kona, and five were added in Puna, Kubojiri said. The police department now has 432 authorized sworn officer positions, including eight vacant positions.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today announced more than $243 million in grants awarded nationwide to 238 law enforcement agencies and municipalities for the hiring of new officers and deputies.

The awards were made through the COPS Hiring Program, a competitive grant program that provides funding directly to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire police officers dedicated to addressing specific crime and disorder challenges confronting communities.  The grants provide 100 percent funding for the entry-level salaries and benefits of newly-hired, or rehired, full-time officer positions over a three-year period.

For the 2011 COPS Hiring Program, 2,712 applications were received requesting more than $2 billion and 8,999 positions.  Funding decisions were based on an agency’s commitment to community policing, crime rates, changes in law enforcement budgets, and other local fiscal data (poverty, unemployment, foreclosure rates, etc.).

“Cities across the country are dealing with numerous challenges and we are pleased to be able to assist their public safety efforts,” said COPS Director Bernard Melekian. “Creating and maintaining jobs is a key part of this program.  This funding helps support local departments in their efforts to increase their ranks, enhance their relationship with the community and directly address their public safety concerns.”

The 2011 COPS Hiring Program awards will create or help preserve 1,021 sworn law enforcement positions.  The jobs created, preserved or refilled with COPS Hiring Program funds will advance community policing at the local level and contribute greatly to the quality of life of the citizens in each community.

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has awarded over $13 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 120,000 officers and to provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, technical assistance, conferences, and webcasts.

For additional information about the COPS Hiring Program, and to view a list of municipalities that received grants, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

Puna Community Meeting on Police Related Concerns

Media Release:

The Hawai’i Police Department will hold a community meeting on Tuesday, May 24, from noon to 2 p.m. at Cooper Center in Volcano.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow the public to meet the Police Department’s command staff and to discuss police-related concerns with the police chief and commanders who oversee police operations in the Puna District.

The Puna event continues district community meetings, which are rotated throughout the eight police districts on the Big Island. To aid police commanders in focusing on specific community concerns, they ask that participation in this meeting be limited to persons who live or work in the Puna District.

Those interested in participating but unable to attend may e-mail their concerns or comments to copsysop@hawaiipolice.com.

For more information, you may call Acting Captain Glenn Uehana at 965-2717.

Public Invited to the Grand Opening of the New Pahoa Police Station

Media Release:

The public is invited to the grand opening of the new Pāhoa police station on Thursday, February 17.

Only nine months off the target completion date

The new station, located just north of Pāhoa town on Highway 130, will replace a converted kit house in Pāhoa town that functions as a police substation.

The Old Pahoa Police Station

Puna Captain Samuel Jelsma said the opening of the new station is an “important milestone” that will provide better service to the public and allow police officers to work more effectively. “This new structure provides a secure facility, more workspace, three holding cells, surveillance cameras and adequate parking,” Jelsma said.

He added that the station will provide a stronger police presence for lower Puna, which generates the vast majority of calls for police assistance in the Puna District. “The location along Highway 130 will provide quicker response times in an emergency to most subdivisions in the area, as officers will no longer need to negotiate the narrow roadways of Pāhoa Village before reaching the highway when responding from the station,” Jelsma said.

Artist rendition

Citizens are already able to renew their driver’s licenses and register their vehicles in a portion of the new building operated by the County Department of Finance. In the near future, they will be able to register firearms by appointment. (The Police Department will notify the public when firearm registration at the Pāhoa station becomes available.)

A ceremony marking the station’s grand opening is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, February 17. After the ceremony, refreshments will be served during an open house from 10-11 a.m.