Latest Murders Trigger New Bills - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Latest Murders Trigger New Bills

Representative Josh Green Representative Josh Green
Amy Tsark Amy Tsark
Representative John Mizuno Representative John Mizuno

By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A little boy thrown to his death off the H-1 freeway, and a young mother beaten to death on a residential street in Kailua - two tragic stories, could the state have done something to prevent the murders?

It's a complicated question lawmakers are trying to answer in a fresh effort to protect others from suffering similar fates.

Several lawmakers met at the state capitol Wednesday afternoon, determined to better protect abused or neglected children, and victims of domestic violence.

Just six days before Cyrus Belt was thrown from an overpass onto the H-1 freeway, the Department of Human Services (DHS) says someone called the Child Protective Services (CPS) hotline claiming Cyrus's mom tested positive for crystal meth.

DHS planned to visit the baby's home to see if the allegations were true, but it was too late.

"We need that response time to be immediate so that's something we should focus on," said Representative Josh Green.

During an informational briefing, the Committees on Health and Human Services raised concerns over the lag time between the call and the planned assessment, in an effort to find ways to strengthen laws to protect kids. One idea was to give the Honolulu Police Department direct access to internal records in the CPS database.

"By creating closer working relationships between DHS and county police departments, we can collectively make better informed decisions about whether or not to place a child in emergency foster care," said Amy Tsark with DHS.

As for victims of domestic violence, such as Janel Tupuola, committee members said access to services is key.

"One of the biggest problems we're facing is that the victim is not empowered and when I say that, many of our victims do not have the means to leave the abuser," said Representative John Mizuno.

Lawmakers will use the information gathered from the briefing to create bills that would help keep kids and those in abusive relationships more safe.

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