An unofficial DLNR Instagram page surfaces with ‘public shaming’ tactics

State investigates social media page featuring pictures of offenders cited by DLNR officers

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is investigating an Instagram page showing people arrested or cited by its conservation officers.

The DLNR said it’s not their official site and they have no ties to the page. Some say the page is public shaming and downright inappropriate.

“It’s not only unconstitutional but it’s also an illegitimate use of law enforcement,” said Ken Lawson of the University of Hawaii Law School. “Public shaming serves no legitimate law enforcement interest.”

The site has been shut down recently.

It’s unclear how many posts there have been and who is behind it. The page apparently uses photographs taken by DLNR’s conservation officers.

One of the men featured was cited last month for using an illegal lay net at Kaneohe Beach Park. His photo was on the site since at least Oct. 26.

This man's photo was featured on the Instagram page even though he wasn't convicted of a crime at the time.
This man's photo was featured on the Instagram page even though he wasn't convicted of a crime at the time. (Source: None)

That was five days before he pleaded no contest to using the illegal lay net. And because he hasn’t been sentenced yet, he technically has not been convicted of a crime.

“No contest means that I admit the facts but I may not have violated the law," Lawson said.

Environmental activist Carroll Cox said he was first alerted about the Instagram site by DLNR conservation officers not affiliated with it.

“They were quite offended because they felt it was wrong every way you look at it,” he said. “It boggles the mind, what were they thinking and why would they do it.”

The DLNR declined further comment on the matter due to its pending investigation.

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