A Honolulu TV channel recently completed a study that showed a noticeable increase in violent crime on Oahu. The TV investigators used data from the Honolulu Police Department to measure the number of murders, aggravated assault, sex assaults and robberies in 2022 and to compare those numbers with similar statistics from 2021. The comparison confirms a popular impression that violent crime is on the rise.
From January to July in 2022, 18 persons were murdered, compared with 14 at the same time in 2021. Those numbers reflect an increase of nearly 30%. The number of aggravated assaults increased by just 3%, but Waikiki experienced a 40% spike in assaults as tourists returned to the islands. The overall number of violent crimes for the first seven months of 2021 increased by 6% over the same period in 2021.
What the police say
Honolulu’s Deputy Police Chief said that the higher murder rate may be nothing more than a statistical anomaly, but he also conceded that the increase in murders may be following a national trend.
Honolulu prosecutor Steve Alm said that he is concerned about the crime statistics. He observed that guns have been involved in a number of crimes in recent months, and that figure, compared with Hawaii’s historically low rate of violent crime and in the use of firearms is “very concerning.” Alm also cited the apparent end of the COVID pandemic as a possible cause, saying that with the end of the pandemic, people are feeling more comfortable leaving their homes.
Another factor, according to the head of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, is the increasing shortage of police officers. The state has 350 vacancies that it cannot fill on a timely basis. Other potential causes for the increase in crimes is increased drug use and mental illness.
Valuable advice from a knowledgeable attorney
As the number of violent crimes increases, so will the number of persons arrested and charged for these crimes. Anyone facing serious criminal charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal attorney for an evaluation of the evidence, potential defense strategies, and where appropriate, assistance in negotiating an acceptable plea agreement.