KPD receives boost to its anti-drug programs

The Kauai Police Department has received several new assets to help run drug investigation operations and education programs, the County Council learned at its regular meeting Thursday.

The Kauai Government Employees Credit Union donated a 1992 GMC worth about $40,000, to be used as a mobile command center that can respond to major incidents and crime scenes.

Also, $25,000 in supplemental grant funds were appropriated by the state Department of Transportation will be used in support of the state’s seat belt and child restraint laws in the national “Click it or Ticket” campaign. About $16,250 will be used for overtime pay to officers and a clerk to compile statistics; and $8,750 is for Child Passenger Safety Technician training for five officers.

Also, the Gang Resistance Education and Training program will continue next year with federal funds from the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau, G.R.E.A.T. Section. G.R.E.A.T. has been operating on Kauai for several years, and was conceived by the Phoenix Police Department in 1993.

The 13-week curriculum brings police officers into 4th and 7th grade classrooms on Kauai to teach students lessons on self esteem, anger management, identifying bad behavior and how gang behavior is related.

“We know that we can’t change a bad person in 13 weeks. Our goals are to reach some kids, build relationships and become a role model,” said Officer Shawn Smith, who works with the G.R.E.A.T. program.

The program works in conjunction with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, which teaches similar lessons with more emphasis on substance abuse, to 3rd and 5th graders.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said her concern was that a short-term program would not be as effective without partnerships with other community programs. Council chair Kaipo Asing and councilman Joe Munechika wondered whether G.R.E.A.T. could be expanded and why grades 4 and 7 were chosen.

Smith noted that grades 4 and 7 are the “core” groups, and while the programs do have curricula targeted to older students, lack of manpower to teach the classes prevents the department from going after such funding.

This summer, the KPD’s Police Activities League will offer flag football to Kauai youth, Smith said. Councilman Mel Rapozo noted that through the switch from Pop Warner to PAL, the entrance fee will be reduced from $35 to $10 and that more families will be able to afford to have their children participate.

Also at issue was a Drug Enforcement Administration grant of $143,000 targeted to “Green Harvest” marijuana eradication operations in the state.

Deputy Chief Wilfred Ihu and Vice Narcotics Section Lieutenant Ale Quibilan said that Kauai has the smallest vice unit in the state. The KPD can send one officer to Green Harvest operations in the other three counties and receives assistance from three or four officers when Kauai’s quarterly operations are conducted, about 650 hours per year.

Other counties perform their operations differently from here because they have more area to cover and can do eradications monthly or every 6 weeks.

“What is the priority of the department in terms of drug interdiction?” asked Yukimura.

“We know the major problem in any department is ice [crystal methamphetamine],” Ihu said, leading her to ask why more money is being earmarked for marijuana.

The KPD belongs to the Hawaii High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a partnership between numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The HIDTA has provided a $70,000 grant to the KPD for narcotics enforcement, which will primarily be used for ice eradication, Quibilan said.

Ihu added that ice eradication is focused on every day, because a majority of cases are ice-related. However, there is a lack of grants that target eradication of methamphetamine.

Ihu said later that without such a Green Harvest grant from the DEA, marijuana eradication operations on Kauai would stop and the department would only be able to seize processed marijuana through investigations and search warrants, not large amounts of plants being grown on state and private lands.

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