Advocates with the city's Domestic Violence Action Center say they've responded to 106 calls since September -- a number that has plenty of room to grow, according to the center's executive director.
The response actions are part of a new program called "Safe on Scene," a program that is commonly used in mainland cities. Nanci Kreidman, who runs the center, started pushing for it on Oahu after violent video surfaced of an HPD officer fighting with his girlfriend in 2015.
"I started educating our legislators, our city council members and our mayor, to try to allocate some funds to design and develop the program," says Kreidman.
She says Honolulu's mayor appropriated some money for the program, also called "SOS," and a city grant helped supplement the $325,000 needed to support the three full-time advocates who respond to police calls.
Two advocates are assigned to the area known as D-7, the Punahou and Hawaii Kai area, and the third advocate was assigned to D-6, the Waikiki district.
Honolulu police officers who respond to domestic assaults, arguments, harassment complaints or restraining order violations are told to call advocates within 30 minutes so they can provide immediate assistance to victims -- even if there isn't an arrest.
The advocates can then offer services, referrals or other safety plans.
Of the 106 calls advocates have responded to, 52 resulted in successful follow-up calls to victims. But in the first six months, Kreidman says many opportunities to call SOS were lost -- mostly because officers forgot to call an advocate.
Kreidman understands that it may take time for officers to get used to the process, but she also told police commissioners that a lieutenant in the Punahou and Hawaii Kai district was unresponsive and dismissive to offers of help.
On Wednesday, Police Commission Chairman Max Sword asked Acting Chief Cary Okimoto to follow up on the issue. Sword says he hopes SOS can continue growing -- something Kreidman wants too, so long as the state legislature or state grants can fund it.