HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Six years ago, the Honolulu Police Department launched its online crime mapping tool.
But it wasn't until Tuesday that the tool actually mapped violent crimes, a glaring omission that many have criticized.
The announcement that the mapping system would now include violent crimes came Tuesday morning, just hours before City Council members were to meet on the issue.
"As of this morning, everything is up and running so our crime mapping is available to view all of the 15 crimes that are available through our vendor," HPD Assistant Chief William Axt told members of the City Council Public Safety Committee.
Crimes like murder and sex assault were not included previously, despite numerous requests from lawmakers and neighborhood groups. In a news release Tuesday, HPD acknowledged the change was in response to community feedback.
The tools allows users to see how many crimes were reported in a given area. Critics have said that omitting violent crimes gives residents a false impression of a community's safety.
"Violent crime in the neighborhoods has a large effect on the decisions that people with families or other investors make," says Aaron Hunger, a criminology researcher at the University of Hawaii.
Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine thanked HPD for the addition Tuesday, but was puzzled why it took so long.
"As you know, I have been asking for this since my first year in office," she told HPD leaders at the meeting. "The neighborhood boards from my area have repeatedly asked for this, so what took so long?"
One reason HPD cited for not posting sex crimes: Protecting the victim's privacy. The Maui Police Department addressed that issue by posting the sex assault with a footnote that says the location has been offset.
HPD shows the block number and street where the crime was reported. On main roads, that doesn't pose a problem, but Axt says on smaller streets, neighbors may be able to narrow down the location. Victims advocates were notified before the crime was added.
Crime mapping has proven problematic for other Hawaii police departments.
Kauai police used to have crime mapping available, but the technology wasn't working so they have made adjustments and will re-launch the tool next month. Hawaii County doesn't have the capability yet, but is working toward it.
To see the crime mapping tool, click here.