HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than one in 50 citations issued on Oahu since March for violating COVID-19 emergency orders resulted in a conviction, newly-released statistics show.
Of the more than 60,000 criminal charges issued by Honolulu police since March that have already gone through the court system, the city Prosecutor’s Office declined to prosecute more than 43,000.
Another 15,700 charges were dismissed by a judge or prosecutor, leaving just 962 convictions.
The Prosecutor’s Office said it declines or dismisses case when there is insufficient evidence.
Investigative reporter and blogger Ian Lind said the numbers are astounding.
“Prosecutors have shown by their behavior that they know that most of these violations are meaningless and that’s why they’re getting rid of them,” he said.
Lind said a recent HPD audit shows that there’s a financial incentive for some officers to write as many citations as possible.
“The results of their overtime audit really tell you that a small group of officers were being rewarded for passing out as many useless citations as they could,” he said.
One of the officers cited in the report issued criminal citations to US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, his assistant and a tour guide at Kualoa Beach Park in August.
Adams was in town then to help the city and state’s response to the COVID crisis.
Tour guide Kelly Beck said prosecutors dismissed his criminal misdemeanor charge and that he pleaded no contest a minor trespassing violation.
Adams was offered a similar deal but turned it down.
Beck thinks prosecutors are singling out Adams because of his political status.
But prosecutors denied the allegation.
“It’s unfair and selective,” said Beck. “I’m not saying give them special consideration (just) treat them like everyone else.”