HPD Should Welcome Community Input

The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, July 3, 2022 as part of the “Raise Your Hand” column in the Insight section.

By: Chanel Matsumoto, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, c/o 2023 (left) and Jasmine Lianalyn Rocha, Maryknoll School, c/o 2023 (right)

It is no secret that the Honolulu Police Department has seen its share of difficulties, including the loss of two police chiefs in the last 10 years, corruption and rising anti-police sentiment nationwide. Reflecting on our troubling history with HPD, how can new Police Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan change the community’s perception of the department?

Our team, “Holomua,” is a group of four Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders (CTL) fellows and our program coaches, formed with the goal of fostering understanding between HPD and the teenagers of Hawaii to create healthy and safe communities. Through a survey we conducted for the Honolulu Police Commission, we found that teenagers want the new chief of police to possess integrity, service orientation and problem-solving skills. For Chief Logan to positively alter the community’s perception of himself and his department, he should strive to demonstrate these traits and focus on the following suggestions.

Revitalizing HPD’s Community Policing Team (CPT) and better integrating the younger generation in its affairs is the first step toward change. The CPT’s events, like Coffee with a Cop, aim to bring community members and officers together to discuss issues and get to know one another in a casual setting. Casual conversation can reduce friction and help build mutual understanding on challenging community issues.

However, the meetings usually run during school hours, which prevents student participation. Changing the meeting times for these events is a small yet impactful way of building trust between officers and the community.

In addition, Joe Logan should create a forum where the community can comfortably voice their opinions on the department. HPD has hotlines and emails for this, but an interactive platform will engage the community and encourage people to continue involvement. This could be implemented in the form of a public town hall meeting where community members can testify, directly submit feedback, or listen in on what others are saying. Implementing this platform will show people that Chief Logan wants their feedback and will take it to heart. The community will then be more likely to cooperate with the department and support the officers they interact with.

Not only does Oahu need a leader who is engaging the community, but one who is also proactive and aware of the island’s most pressing issues. In 2019, HPD solved only 7.8% of crimes and only 7% of index crimes, such as assault, murder, theft, burglary and arson. This suggests that HPD’s previous policing and investigative methods were insufficient.

Our chief of police and officers are supposed to be the authority that we look up to, and it is disappointing that so many people no longer believe in HPD’s capabilities.

— Chanel Matsumoto & Jasmine Lianalyn Rocha

Chief Logan must be alert and innovative: paying attention to patterns and looking at obstacles “with new eyes.” Hawaii’s crime rate is on the rise and HPD is suffering an officer shortage. HPD should prioritize recruiting more ethical, reliable and competent officers to help address rising crime in our communities. Recruiting officers in conjunction with enhancing community policing initiatives will ensure that there are not only enough personnel on the streets, but that those officers will have the confidence of the communities they serve.

The Honolulu Police Department has suffered some losses at the hands of past leaders, and too much time has passed without the implementation of significant change. Our chief of police and officers are supposed to be the authority that we look up to, and it is disappointing that so many people no longer believe in HPD’s capabilities.

But, Chief Logan has the unique opportunity to rebuild HPD and repair its broken reputation in the community. This task is not an easy one — but his careful leadership, along with our suggestions, can begin the process of putting the pieces of our police department back together.

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