Audit shows three-year surge in domestic violence cases - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Audit shows three-year surge in domestic violence cases

(Image: Hawaii News Now/File) (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A new report issued by the Office of the City Auditor shows an alarming statistic: the number of domestic violence cases handled by Honolulu police detectives over a three-year period has skyrocketed.

"I think the main factor is domestic violence has not declined," said Keith Kaneshiro, Honolulu's Prosecuting Attorney. 

The city did the audit in-part because of several high-profile domestic violence incidents, including some within HPD. In 2014, surveillance video captured officer Darren Cachola in a physical confrontation with his girlfriend.

He wasn't arrested or charged, but police union president Tenari Maafala says cops now more aggressively investigate domestic violence cases.

"To avoid anything that's similar to Cachola's case, they want to make sure that they report everything as is and let the prosecutor's office or the detectives and investigators prove otherwise," Maafala said.

The city audit shows that in 2013, HPD detectives investigated 215 domestic violence cases. By 2016, that number had surged to 1,538.

"Officers now are a little bit more cognizant, making sure that they err on the side of caution, to make sure they cross every 't' and dot every 'I,'" Maafala said.

The audit says a significant factor for the increase was a change in state law in 2014 that made domestic abuse in the presence of a child under 14 years old a felony crime, but misdemeanor cases of domestic violence refered to detectives also quadrupled over the same period.

The increases, however, did not translate to more successful prosecutions of suspected offenders.

"The community needs to know what the dynamics of domestic violence is all about," Kaneshiro said. "You are going to have victims not testify, not cooperating, and afraid to implicate the abusers."

Kaneshiro says more education is needed, along with more courtrooms and more judges to handle the growing number of domestic violence cases that are now going to court.

Domestic violence victims advocate Nanci Kreidman believes the audit proves the system isn't working for those who need help, saying it should spur all parties involved in these cases to do a better job of communicating and cooperating. 

"Let's use the opportunity to save lives and spirits, and create a potentially better future for kids," she says. "The cost is too great." 

Maafala also says the dramatic increase may be due to the fact that both parties involved in suspected domestic violence cases now are more likely to file a complaint. 

Additionally, the domestic violence audit calls for improved data sharing of domestic violence cases between police investigators and prosecutors. Kaneshiro says that HPD's new Crime Reporting System will help accomplish that.

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