HPD: Weapons violations up in five of Oahu’s eight police districts

Internal data from the Honolulu Police Department shows officers are confronting more people carrying weapons.
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 3:25 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 6:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Internal data from the Honolulu Police Department shows officers are confronting more people carrying weapons.

HPD confirms violations are up in five of Oahu’s eight police districts.

But what the numbers don’t show are the types of weapons officers are finding. Hawaii News Now discovered it’s information the department isn’t tracking.

Weapons law violations include a variety of crimes — everything from unlawfully carrying a gun, to possessing prohibited knives, even explosive devices.

A law enforcement expert Hawaii News Now spoke with says it’s much harder to crack down on the problem if you don’t know what’s on the street.

A week ago Thursday, a gunman opened fire from inside a hotel room, inciting an hours-long standoff with police in the heart of Waikiki. Officers rushed to close Kuhio Avenue and move bystanders to safety.

At a press conference the following day, Honolulu Police Chief Arthur Logan told reporters, “Between the first officer’s arrival and midnight the male fired approximately eight rounds from within the unit.”

Logan said, “At least one round hit a police vehicle parked on the street below,” adding “he had what we believe to be a 9mm ghost gun.”

While the totality of this particular situation is rare, new data shows Honolulu police are coming across more people armed with weapons.

Former HPD Deputy Chief John McCarthy says last week’s standoff highlights that growing trend.

“That incident, it’s a weapons violation,” McCarthy said. “They could have made other cases as well.”

HNN Investigates obtained an internal memo from HPD’s Crime Analysis Unit comparing this year’s statistics to last year.

It shows from the start of 2022 through Nov.11, weapons law violations went up in five of Oahu’s eight districts.

Three communities saw substantial increases.

Weapons violations jumped nearly 40% in District one, which includes Downtown Honolulu.

The memo documents during that 11-month time period last year, there were 125 compared to 174 during that same time period this year.

Meanwhile, weapons violations along Oahu’s Windward coast, also known as District four, surged more than 80% from 30 to 55.

District five, which includes Kalihi, saw the most dramatic increase with a nearly 90% spike from 61 to 115.

According to HPD weapons law violations include: unlawfully carrying a firearm or a felon or person prohibited who is caught in possession of a gun.

It also includes having prohibited weapons — like a butterfly knife or a switchblade, an electric gun or an explosive device.

“When you’re talking about these weapons violations you’re talking pretty much about standalone crimes,” said McCarthy.

For example, if a weapon is used in a murder or robbery, it’s not considered a weapons law violation. Those crimes are counted in their respective categories.

City Councilmember Radiant Cordero says she wants HPD to provide an explanation for the recent increase saying numbers alone aren’t enough.

“It still doesn’t tell the whole story about what is out there. What’s being uncovered,” said Cordero. “I think it’s important to know the types of weapons.”

HNN asked HPD for a breakdown of exactly what kind of weapon was involved in each violation. But the department says it doesn’t track that data.

HPD also couldn’t tell us how many of the weapons were confiscated.

Cordero said, “Without that data, we really can’t know the story, let alone how we can best protect ourselves and the next steps to take.”

The retired deputy chief agrees saying those reports could be generated, but that the department would likely need new computer software.

“They have a ton of information at their fingertips,” said McCarthy. “If they were able to leverage this information, they would be in a better position to use resources.”

Providing officers with more knowledge to keep the public safe.

“They need to be given that direction to address the problem at it’s core,” McCarthy said.

HPD says it recognizes the issue and is taking steps to fix it.

In an email, spokesperson Michelle Yu said, “To address the increase, patrol districts are continuing to focus on those geographic areas known for having weapons, weapons offenses or weapons-related crimes.”

McCarthy says in addition to new computer software, it would also take more manpower to generate that new data and someone to review the information.