‘People are acting a little nuts’: New data shows an increase in violent crime on Oahu

It’s not your imagination: Violent crime is on the rise on Oahu.
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 1:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s not your imagination: Violent crime is on the rise on Oahu.

That’s according to Honolulu Civil Beat.

From the recent deadly shooting of a pregnant woman at a Chinatown bus stop to a man accused of amputating another man’s hand with a sword, officials have expressed concern over a worrisome trend of violent crime.

Civil Beat crunched Honolulu Police Department data, finding that the number of murders, aggravated assaults, sex assaults and robberies rose by nearly 6% in the first seven months of this year.

Oahu’s murder rate is up nearly 30%.

From January to July, there were at least 18 deaths, compared to 14 at the same time last year.

Aggravated assaults are up 3% overall, but Waikiki saw a 40% spike as tourists returned.

HPD’s Deputy Chief Rade Vanic says the higher murder rate could simply be an anomaly. But he also says it’s possible that Oahu is following a national trend of rising crime.

In a press conference on Monday, Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm said he is concerned.

“It appears that guns are involved in a number of crimes these days and we have traditionally been in the bottom 10 nationally when it comes to violent crime in general and use of firearms,” he said. “So the fact that we’re seeing them in some terroristic threatening cases, armed robberies is very concerning.”

Alm says he’s not necessarily surprised by the rising crime as more people return to normal life.

“I think the problem is, with COVID, people stayed home, the crime numbers were down, property crime is down, violent crime is down,” Alm said. “Now people are out and about, doing more things, and you know, people are acting a little nuts, too, I think, after what had happened with that.”

Robert Cavaco, head of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union, told Civil Beat that a major factor behind the rising crime is the shortage of police officers.

Despite recruiting efforts, Cavaco said the department has nearly 350 vacancies as more officers are retiring or resigning faster than they can fill the ranks.

Cavaco added that drug use and mental illness could also be factors.

The incidents are also “odder,” he said, pointing to the Hawaii Loa Ridge murder in which a man was encased in concrete in a bathtub.

On the other hand, property crime, burglaries and car thefts have dropped in that same period, Civil Beat reported.