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CrimeStoppers Honolulu used to rely heavily on volunteers. The pandemic changed that

Updated: Oct. 31, 2020 at 1:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every year, CrimeStoppers Honolulu helps solve hundreds of crimes with the help of tips from the public.

Volunteers had been the driving force behind the anonymous tip line at HPD headquarters, but many of them are retired and elderly, putting them at a higher risk of getting sick amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 28 volunteers haven’t been allowed in station since March, leaving just four staffers to process numerous tips everyday.

“We just want to assure the public that we’re still doing what we can to take in the tips, forward them to the investigators and make sure the tips to get investigated,” Sgt. Chris Kim, CrimeStoppers Coordinator, said.

The decision to keep the volunteers at home was a tough one made with their health and safety in mind.

“We thought of ways of how to get them involved, but at this point, just do to the way the system is run, we’re managing — we’re doing what we can,” Kim added.

He said they all had a family-like bond, building valued relationships with each other while working to keep the streets of Honolulu safe.

“My heart goes out to them. All of them. They always looked forward to coming in to help do their part. And now they’re at home and they feel like they’re not able to,” he said.

Last year, they took in over 3,000 calls. Many of them led to the arrests of wanted suspects. But with fewer volunteers to answer the phones, they’ve only been able to take half as many calls.

“For example, today we had three calls going at one time. We missed one call but fortunately they were able to call back,” Donna Takahashi-Gomes, clerk typist for CrimeStoppers Honolulu, said. “I tell them we’re low on volunteers – I don’t tell them we don’t have any volunteers.”

Takahashi-Gomes is now working even harder to answer more of the calls that come in. She said it’s a learning experience that has helped her understand what it takes to be a CrimeStoppers volunteers.

“I don’t realize the kind of calls they get. And when I get them, I’m like ‘Woah.’ I understand and I appreciate them more,” she said.

The group is encouraging people to submit information through the P3 Tips app. It’s the most convenient, and quick way to submit a tip online. All tipsters remain anonymous and may even get a cash reward.

The P3 Tips app is an easy way to submit information to CrimeStoppers.
The P3 Tips app is an easy way to submit information to CrimeStoppers.(HNN)

“We’re finding that actually a lot of times, these people, they’re not interested in the reward. They just want to do the right thing and help solve the case and get justice for the victims,” Sgt. Kim said.

While they’re making do with what they have for now, the team is grateful for the tips, support, and donations that continue to stream in.

“The volunteers – they truly believe that this program works,” Takahashi-Gomes said. “Majority of the tips are successful.”

To download the app, search “P3 Tips” in your mobile phone’s app store. When you create an account, you will be directly linked to CrimeStoppers Honolulu.

For more information on their efforts, click here, or call 955-8300.

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