HPD's handling of domestic violence cases criticized

HPD's handling of domestic violence cases criticized

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Service providers who help domestic violence victims said that the recent case involving a Honolulu police officer caught on video hitting his girlfriend reflects a larger problem in the department. The Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women has collected more than 30 complaints about HPD's handling of domestic violence cases in the last year and a half.

"Far too often there are police officers who do not respond to domestic violence situations appropriately when the perpetrator is a friend, a family member or a fellow police officer," said attorney Cheryl Yamaki.

Hawaii News Now interviewed a mother of two who said her abuser was well-known in the community and had close ties to several officers.

"He pointed a knife at me while threatening me, threatening to kill me right there and then," she recalled about one beating in 2006.

According to her, the first time she worked up the courage to call police, they discouraged her from pressing charges.

"They were saying, 'Think about your children's future. How can you raise them by yourself?'" recalled the survivor. "That's why I just endured everything that he did and said to me."

The executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women shared several stories from victims.

"A victim's abuser is an ex-police officer. While she was in a car, her abuser broke the window to grab her. She called the police. The police who responded knew the abuser, said they would not take a report because the car was marital property," said Catherine Betts.

The survivor that Hawaii News Now interviewed said she endured nearly a decade of beatings and two trips to the emergency room. She is out of that abusive relationship now, but believes her life would be drastically different if police had taken her concerns seriously from the start.

"Stop covering up for each other," she said. "What if it happens to your own family? How would you feel about that?"

According to HPD's policy, domestic violence is unacceptable. When acts of violence occur, quick action will be taken to protect the victim, make arrests, and pursue criminal prosecution or administrative action.

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