Audit claims new law fails to reduce domestic violence while increasing police workload

A law meant to prevent domestic violence cases created more work for police and prosecutors.

That’s according to the city auditor who says changes need to be made.

In a new report, the auditor says the Honolulu Police Department and prosecutor’s office lack certain things to successfully prosecute domestic violence cases.

So what is he recommending to make things better?

Since 2013, domestic violence cases turned over to the city prosecutors office have been on the rise.

The number of cases going up from 263 in 2013, to 471 in 2016.

Adding to the workload was a law passed in 2014, which made it a felony if abuse happened in front of a child under 14.

A new report by the city auditor said that while the law was meant to deter domestic violence cases, it instead put a strain on prosecutors.

The auditor recommends the office to lobby for more resources, something city prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro says is unlikely, “Obviously I don’t think we could get more money or more people on but the reason we still have a lot of cases we just have to be able to do and handle those cases the best way we can.”

Kaneshiro does say he’s going to continue to ask the legislature to pursue dropping domestic violence from a misdemeanor, to a petty misdemeanor. “So if you make it a petty misdemeanor you can resolve it a lot quicker with trail by a judge instead of a jury.”

Also in the audit, HPD and the office of the prosecutor would have to issue regular reports to keep the city and the public informed about domestic violence incidents, something both support.

Another recommendation both support is improving the way information is shared between the departments. Kaneshiro also said unused civil court rooms or criminal circuit courts could be used to combat the problem of case congestion.

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