Unserved warrants report overdue
County leaders will have to wait another month for an update on how many outstanding felony warrants remain unserved by the police department.
As of last month, roughly 700 warrants — which bear a six-month expiration date — had yet to be served.
Estelle Furuike, police records supervisor, said yesterday that the number of active warrants is 652, 98 of which are active warrants that stem from felonies.
Though the official tally has yet to be presented to the County Council — a request made by Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho when leaders were reviewing the island’s budget in May — Deputy Police Chief Gordon Isoda said the report should be available in time for the next Police Commission meeting, slated for Aug. 24.
At its most recent meeting, Police Commissioner Leon Gonsalves asked whether KPD is “putting a dent” in the numbers in the meantime.
“I think the issue with warrants is you serve some and every month you have more coming in — 600 to 900, ” Isoda said. “The girls (records clerks) have a lot to process. Even though there’s a number to be served, we still have a lot coming in.”
The department is making felony warrants a priority, he added.
Acting Chief Clayton Arinaga said the reason the official tally wasn’t available on-time for commissioners was because the compilation was sub-standard, and that he had sent it back for improvement.
A statewide, warrant age-monitoring task force that included Prosecuting Attorney Craig DeCosta showed part of the reason many warrants remain unserved is because addresses are no longer valid.
While most citizens are required to notify the licensing office each time they change their address, many do not, Assistant Chief Roy Asher said.
Carvalho said while all warrants are important, those tied with felonies have priority.
“Every case is important — we’ve already done all the investigation and used all those resources, court time, clerk time, police overtime — all of that gets dismissed if within six months we don’t serve the warrant,” Carvalho said.
That said, the threat of a case being dismissed extends to sex assault and murder cases, which means a lack of follow-through from law enforcement could entangle the county in lawsuits.
“Once you know people have testified and put their safety in jeopardy waiting for you to serve the warrant, you need to be diligent,” she said.
“If a victim knows a criminal is out there and we haven’t been diligent, we can be sued.”
The issue of unserved warrants came up again last week when the department asked county leaders for use of grant money to enforce underage drinking — a request that prompted Carvalho to remind KPD about her query.
“Last year’s budget was based on the promise that the prosecutor’s office would assist the police department in executing warrants,” Carvalho said.
“We provided funding for bulletproof vests and GPS systems because of that. When we asked how much warrants they’ve helped with, the answer was, ‘none.’”
Coordination between entities could prove to help expedite a resolution, she added.
“Everybody has a responsibility,” she said. A former prosecutor, Carvalho said those in court could collaborate with police with a simple heads-up.
“If a person comes in for a District Court case with a felony warrant outstanding, or they show up in a juvenile case, whatever the case, we could make a point of alerting the sheriffs that that person is in court that day.”