– The Kaua’i Police Department has received about $240,000 in asset seizure funds provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office, nearly 10 years after the investigation closed.
Chief George Freitas made the announcement Friday, Aug. 26 at the County of Kaua’i Police Commission’s regular meeting at the Kauai County Building.
Funds from asset seizures help finance special drug and narcotics enforcement operations. It does not fund ongoing prevention programs or purchase vehicles for the vice unit, although the department was given approval to purchase some new furnishings, Freitas said.
The money came from sales of seized property and real estate after an early-1990s drug investigation that forfeited a residence and land in Kukui’ula and along Wailua River, and property in a Koloa Self-Storage unit.
The County specifies that $106,000 per year from the fund can be used for special drug enforcement projects, Freitas said Monday. Some of the money could be used to put up for a computerized dispatch and records system (which was also discussed at the commission meeting), and of a total fund amount of nearly $1 million before this new money, about $750,000 was set aside for furnishings for the new Police Department headquarters, Freitas said.
– Patrol officers may finally get the computer dispatch system for their vehicles first proposed about five years ago.
The computer-aided dispatch and records maintenance system (CAD/RMS), is used in emergency service vehicles nationwide. Computer terminals placed in vehicles can help personnel access databases and records from police headquarters, facilitating police and emergency work.
Police Chief Freitas assigned Investigative Services Assistant Chief Gordon Isoda to continue the process after receiving the county finance department’s specifications for the computer-aided system. One of the problems was that wasn’t enough money to get the equipment online, Freitas said.
The police department received about $400,000 from the Department of Justice in 1999. The department may now be eligible for up to $400,000 more from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for emergency communications equipment. The fire department would partner with the police; they both use the same dispatch center.
Chairman Norman Holt said that Isoda wasn’t the right person to answer the questions about the proposal and didn’t have enough background in the project. Chief Freitas defended his decision; saying that Isoda could handle the frustrating task of getting different agencies to work together and organizing personnel who were involved with it from the beginning.
Freitas reiterated the importance of getting the system purchased and up and running; he said that in 1995 when he became chief, he couldn’t believe Kaua’i police didn’t yet have CAD. The units available now are better than ever, having reached the third-and fourth-generation technology level.
– Continuing vacancies in the police department have led Freitas to write a letter to the Maui Police asking for suggestions in modifying the KPD’s hiring practices. The Kaua’i department has a shortage of 16 officers.
Freitas said that for example, 70 people might score high enough to be considered for a job when the department administers a written test. But an internal rule allows five names to be reviewed for the first vacancy and just one for each vacancy thereafter. Also, tests need to be administered more often, he said.
Months might pass and good people might get hired elsewhere; people may lose interest, or background checks might eliminate candidates.
In addition, about 600 federal airport security personnel will be hired in Hawai’i, with starting salaries higher than that of a starting police officer, Freitas noted. Raising salaries, easing the application process, administering more tests and shortening the gap in time between testing and the hiring would also help make the department more competitive, Freitas said.
– Isoda presented stats for the Investigative Services Bureau. Of the 1,075 cases in July, 30 were closed as unfounded reports and 553 cases carry suspects or were closed. Officers made 15 arrests. The Adult Investigations Section investigated five sexual assault cases, and two people were arrested. The Youth Services Section hired two new DARE officers. The Vice Section completed a Green Harvest operation July 1—3, in which they confiscated and destroyed 9,663 marijuana plants.
– Traffic statistics for July were presented by Patrol Assistant Chief Clay Arinaga. In July of 2000, there were 259 cases; in 2001, 179; and in 2002, 296 cases. June 2002 had 655 cases, an 11.6 percent increase.
For the month of July, the traffic division had 79 felony cases, 300 misdemeanors and 22 DUI arrests. There were 144 traffic accidents, of which there were 33 injuries and no fatalities. Seatbelt citations numbered 88.
The next regular meeting of the Police Commission is scheduled for Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 2nd floor of the Historic County Building.