Crime statewide lowest since 1975

Overall crime in Hawaii in 2016 dropped to the lowest level since 1975, when the crime statistics were first calculated by the state attorney general.

“The record low crime statistics in 2016 highlight the outstanding work of law enforcement throughout the state and in all four counties,” said Attorney General Douglas Chin in a press release. “These numbers also help refute … that crime in our country is at an all-time high.”

Kauai County reported reductions in nearly all major crime categories, though slightly less than statewide. That’s good news, but Kauai Police Department Chief Darryl Perry and Deputy Chief Michael Contrades acknowledged Tuesday that there is one unfortunate outlier in the crime totals: rape.

Total criminal offenses on Kauai have been on a downward trend for many years. The historic high was 2009, when there were 9,227 crimes reported on the island. In 2015, the total reached 5,616. Last year, 5,691 serious crimes were reported.

Three violent crime categories showed increases last year: Rape, murder and aggravated assault. Rape figures have only been officially computed since 2014, when the federal government changed the definition of rape to include undesired physical conduct that did not involve actual intercourse.

KPD “attributes the reduction in overall crime to factors related to community and law enforcement partnerships, education, proactive measures, and most importantly the hard work and commitment of our KPD ohana,” Perry said. “Our patrol staff has been keenly aware of the trends occurring on the island with regards to crime and has taken proactive measures to increase patrols in hot spots.”

The statistics are published in a report titled “Crime In Hawaii.” Every state is required to file the report annually with the FBI, which is charged with tabulating crime rate details in a program called Uniform Crime Reports.

Kauai’s three increased categories broke down this way:

w Rape rose from the 32 reported in 2014 and 31 in 2015 to 45 last year.

That is a substantial increase, Perry and Contrades agreed. But statistics may not tell the whole story. The number of rapes may have increased, KPD said, because more women reported such incidents than in the past — a development that validates the rape prevention and response programs by KPD and such organizations as the YWCA of Kauai.

KPD said it’s impossible to determine whether the total represents more rapes occurred or that more rapes were reported; it could be either or both.

The YWCA operates a 24-hour rape crisis hotline at 245-4144. There is also a national rape crisis line staffed 24 hours a day, (800) 656-HOPE. Locally, the YWCA also operates a 24-hour domestic violence hotline, 245-6362.

If you hear or see a rape in progress, dial 911 or call KPD’s dispatch center at 245-1711. Another resource is KPD’s domestic violence coordinator, at 241-1695.

KPD is a state leader in responding to rape. The department has a special examination room and family waiting area where a victim and her family can receive immediate attention. The department, unlike many in the country, is caught up in its analysis of rape kits, which preserve genetic and other evidence that may identify an offender.

w Aggravated assaults on the island increased from 80 in 2015 to 98 last year.

The one-year difference must be viewed in context, KPD said, because 186 in 2010 was the highest figure on record for the county. Even the slight increase between 2015 and 2016 still tracks what the attorney general’s office called a continued downward trend.

w Murder jumped from two in 2015 to five last year.

However, single-year totals of murder cases in a jurisdiction as small as Kauai are nearly statistically meaningless because the absolute numbers are so small. From 2007 to 2015 there were either zero, one or two homicides per year. It remains a rare crime on the island.

Statewide, a total of 45,805 crimes were reported, yielding a rate of 3,206 offenses per 100,000 residents, the lowest on record since statewide data collection began in 1975.

Hawaii’s crime rate in 2016 was 6.2 percent below the rate reported in 2015, and 27.1 percent below the rate reported a decade earlier in 2007.

Kauai County’s overall crime rate decreased 5.3 percent in 2016, reaching its lowest level on record. The violent crime rate decreased 24.1 percent, and the property crime rate dropped 7.8 percent, also reaching a record low level.

In 2016, Kauai County also reported its record low burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft rates, according to the crime report.

Crime rates per 100,000 residents do not always match the absolute numerical totals for individual crimes.

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