HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It has been a deadly year on Oahu.
In the first four months of the year, there have been 13 murder victims, according to newly-released statistics from the Honolulu Police Department.
That’s more than double the figure at the same time last year.
And in 2019, before the pandemic, Oahu reported just three murders from January through April.
Robberies are up too, though not as significantly. Aggravated assaults are up slightly.
Meanwhile, there have been 90 rapes reported, which is on par with 2019′s number of 93.
Non-violent crimes, like burglary and larceny, are down.
But car thefts jumped ― with 1,500 compared to almost 1,300 last year.
The statistics come amid growing fears of a crime surge on Oahu.
Police have spent much of the past two years enforcing COVID restrictions and there is a severe shortage of officers ― with more than 300 vacancies at HPD.
“A lot of officers are leaving earlier in their career,” said Robert Cavaco, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
“Trying to keep them in is a challenge and trying to bring them in is a challenge,” Cavaco said.
University of Hawaii Criminology Professor Meda Chesney-Lind said HPD leaders need to be more transparent and open to public input when it comes to fighting crime.
“They need to engage with the community,” Lind said. “That has been a problem traditionally with HPD, is there isn’t as vigorous an effort as I’d like to see in terms of community outreach.”
Lind said it doesn’t help that the Honolulu Police Commission is taking more than a year to hire a new chief. Hawaii News Now did ask the Interim Chief Rade Vanic for comment on the crime figures and ways HPD is working to address the issues, but he declined an interview.
HNN was told Vanic will instead answer questions from the commissioners at Thursday’s meeting.
The commission is also expected to reveal the list of finalists for the top job.
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