FBI: Violent crimes in Hawaii fall in recent years despite rise in rapes

Updated: Oct. 7, 2019 at 11:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows a drop in violence in Hawaii recently.

"Nationally, we saw violent crime go down pretty much across the board. When we talk about violent crime, we're talking about murder, rape, robberies and aggravated assault," said Special Agent Jason K. White. “Three of the four went down.”

The numbers show sexual crimes in the state have seen a steep increase in recent years, which matches the national trend.

There were 625 reported rapes in Hawaii last year, a rate of 44 per 100,000 people.

In 1998, there were 352 rapes reported in Hawaii, a rate of 29.5 per 100,000 people.

Criminologist Meda Chesney-Lind believes that’s because more victims are reporting rape.

“Only about one third of women who are sexually assaulted actually report their offenses to the police," said Chesney-Lind. "Only half of those numbers are prosecuted. So, for many women it's a very traumatic event. And then to have to get into the criminal justice system and have to tell the story again, again and again, re-traumatizes victims so it's tough."

The statistics are from the FBI's Uniformed Crime Report, compiled to help law enforcement agencies determine how to focus their resources.

Believe it or not, the overall rate of violent crime rate in Hawaii is about what it was in 1998.

The report shows there were 36 murders in Hawaii last year, a rate of 2.5 for 100,000 people.

While in 2017, there were 39 murders, a rate of 2.7 per 100,000 people, in 1998, there were 24 murders, a rate of 2.0 for 100,000 people.

White says keep in mind the numbers the FBI receives is dependent on what the agencies provide.

“It's all voluntary that they report this data to us," White said.

White said of the about 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide that are eligible to report, about 14,000 agencies reported last year.

“These are city, county, state and tribal agencies,” he said.

Chesney-Lind says Hawaii's violent crime rate is about a third less than the mainland.

Lauren Binz is originally from Pennsylvania and says she is not surprised.

“Coming from the East Coast, I feel like I’m a little biased about it. I feel like Hawaii in general is a very safe place compared to a lot of the big cities on the East Coast.”

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