Hawaii County Officers of the Month: Balberde, Wakita and Haskell

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Officer John Balberde as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for January and Officers Charisse Wakita and Earl Haskell as “Officers of the Month” for February.

Hilo Exchange Club board member Joey Estrella presents "Officer of the Month" awards to Charrise Wakita and Earl Haskell

Hilo Exchange Club board member Joey Estrella presents “Officer of the Month” awards to Charrise Wakita and Earl Haskell

Balberde was recognized for apprehending a repeat offender and convicted felon who was wanted for burglary. Wakita and Haskell were recognized for performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on an unresponsive man. All three officers were honored Thursday (February 27) during a luncheon ceremony in Hilo.

On October 10, Officer Balberde saw a suspicious-looking man at a park in Hilo. The man matched the description of a suspected burglar, so Balberde confronted him. When he did, the suspect reached into his pocket and attempted to throw away some crystal methamphetamine but was unsuccessful. Balberde also observed the suspect trying to conceal one of several rings that matched the description of jewelry stolen in the burglary. Detectives recovered them as evidence. In addition, Balberde uncovered signs that the suspect was in possession of other illegal drugs. When the officer returned to the police station, he initiated a separate drug investigation that led to arrests and charges for five other illegal drug offenses, four of them felonies.

According to Sergeant Paul Kim, Balberde’s “keen perception, attention to detail and proactive investigation led not only to the capture of a repeat offender, but the prevention of untold numbers of other crimes against the community.”

On Christmas Day just before noon, Officers Wakita and Haskell were assigned to a dropped 911 call that originated in the area of the old Hilo airport. The only sound police dispatchers could hear was moaning.

Wakita and Haskell searched the area and found an unresponsive man lying on the ground under a banyan tree. They administered CPR until Fire/Rescue personnel arrived about five minutes later. The officers’ investigation revealed that the man had preexisting medical conditions. An ambulance took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he eventually was admitted into the intensive care unit.

“Officers Wakita and Haskell displayed a great deal of calm and determination under stressful conditions,” wrote Sergeant Lorenzo Artienda in nomination papers. “They showed a great deal of respect for life as evidenced by their decisive actions.”

Hilo Exchange Club board member Joey Estrella presents an "Officer of the Month" award to John Balberde

Hilo Exchange Club board member Joey Estrella presents an “Officer of the Month” award to John Balberde

As “Officer of the Month,” Balberde, Wakita and Haskell are each eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

Hawaii Joins National Invasive Species Awareness Week

The State of Hawaii will participate in National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW). Gov. Neil Abercrombie will kick off the 2nd annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) with a proclamation on March 3 at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Auditorium.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Gov. Abercrombie has made invasive species an administration priority by supporting his cabinet to work across departments as members of the HISC and endorsing 2014 legislative initiatives proposing up to $5 million to meet operating costs of Invasive Species Programs.

“Protecting our islands from the threat of invasive species remains a top priority,” Gov. Abercrombie said in this year’s State of the State address. “We are experiencing a biological crisis involving a multitude of invaders ranging from the little fire ant and coconut rhinoceros beetle, which can harm our animals and trees, to parasites attacking coffee crops. Each represents a deadly threat to our isolated ecosystem, natural resources, and economy, and I ask for the public’s engagement in addressing this menace.”

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), the interagency board created by the Legislature to provide cabinet-level direction on invasive species issues, is coordinating a series of events and activities, open to the public, in recognition of Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week in partnership with the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, county-based Invasive Species Committees, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Biodiversity Information Network, and The Nature Conservancy.

HISAW Kickoff at the Capitol, March 3, 9 a.m. – noon, Capitol Auditorium

  • Governor’s Proclamation: The public is invited to join Governor Abercrombie in commencing Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week. HISC Co-Chairs, Scott Enright (Hawaii Department of Agriculture) and William J. Aila, Jr. (Department of Land and Natural Resources) will also offer opening remarks.
  • HISC Awards Ceremony: The HISC will honor individuals, agencies, organizations, and businesses that have made a difference in protecting Hawaii from the impacts of invasive species. Members of the Legislature will present the awards in the categories of Hottest Hotline Report, Business Leader, Community Hero, County MVP’s, and Greatest Hit of 2013. See full list of winners and honorable mentions at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/
  • Participation and Information Booths: presented by Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Malama Maunaloa, Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership, Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership, Oahu Army Natural Resource Program, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, University of Hawaii, and more.
  • Be a Beetle Buster & Help Save Hawaii’s Coconut Trees: March 3 kick-off

People across the state can easily participate in HISAW online by joining this special “mission” to survey all coconut trees in Hawaii for the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. The public is invited to take photos of the crowns of coconut trees and post them to the “Help Save Hawaii’s Coconut Trees” mission on the Project Noah website or via mobile app. The photos will be reviewed by the Beetle Buster Team from the University of Hawaii Natural Resources and Environmental Management class to assess the presence or absence of this pest across the state. Adult rhino beetles bore into the crowns of coconut trees to drink the sap, leaving distinctive v-shaped cuts in the leaves when the fronds grow out. They could kill half the coconut trees in the state, if they aren’t detected and eradicated. The Beetle Buster Team will flag photos that show suspected beetle damage for follow up surveys. The project will go live on Monday, March 3. For more information and instructions on how to participate, go to: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/

Volunteer Events: Occurring statewide from March 3 to 9
Visit the Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week website at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/ for a full list of volunteer activities across the state. Opportunities include:

  • Helping clear invasive weeds along the Kaluapuhi Trail in Kokee (March 5)
  • Learning about invasive species issues in Hawaii at the Paintballs and Digital Mapping Talk Story, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge (March 7)
  • Removing invasive species at Lyon Arboretum (March 8)
  • Pulling weeds on the offshore islet of Mokuauia (March 8)
  • Pulling weeds in the Koolau Mountains (March 9)
  • Helping to restore Mauna Kea (throughout March)

To learn more about NISAW, visit http://www.nisaw.org. To learn more about the local-level HISAW, visit http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) is a cabinet-level interagency collaboration mandated by Chapter 194, Hawaii Revised Statutes. It is co-chaired by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture with additional voting members from the Departments of Health, Transportation, and Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the University of Hawaii. The HISC approves an annual budget to support invasive species prevention, control, and public outreach projects across the state. http://www.hawaiiinvasivespecies.org

Big Island Police Investigating Robbery at Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a robbery at a public beach earlier in the month.

At 11:33 a.m. on February 14, South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a robbery two hours earlier in the parking lot of Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha.

NUMBER 2: Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha

NUMBER 2: Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha

A 58-year-old Hilo man was reportedly loading his car after a swim, when a young man approached from behind and asked for help. When the victim turned around, the suspect punched him, grabbed his wallet and ran away. He may have gotten into a small white sedan heading toward Hilo.

He was described as a local male in his 20s, slim with a tan complexion, short black hair and unshaven. He was wearing dark surf shorts.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the incident or anyone who knows the identity of the suspect to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Governor Abercrombie Calls for Public Input on Climate Change

Having recently met with President Obama and other state governors on a variety of issues including climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for ideas from Hawaii residents on how the federal government can better support state and other local efforts in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Climate Change and Abercrombie

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was one of 26 members appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Members have been asked to develop recommendations in the areas of:

  • Disaster Management
  • Built Systems (water, transportation, energy, facilities and coastal infrastructure)
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Community Development and Health

The public is invited to provide input through an online form at http://governor.hawaii.gov/climate-change-task-force-survey/. Since the Task Force is on an expedited timeline, the first round of input must be received by Monday, March 10.  The form is also accessible from the Governor’s homepage, http://governor.hawaii.gov, by clicking on “Your Input on Climate Change” under “Useful Links.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to share Hawaii’s unique needs, challenges and innovative solutions, while advising federal officials on what kind of support is needed and what would be most effective here in the islands,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Members of the President’s task force from every part of the country agree this is the challenge of our time and we must work together to prepare for and mitigate impacts.”

“Gov. Abercrombie’s appointment to the President’s task force puts our state in a valuable position to share what matters most for Hawaii in building a resilient future,” said State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. “The recommendations submitted will be considered by the task force for the final presentation to President Obama. Although the focus of the task force is how the federal government can better support our climate change efforts in Hawaii, this is also a chance for us to identify next steps for action that we can take together as a state.”

Resilient Hawaii Forum
Another opportunity to share recommendations and discuss next steps for addressing climate change in Hawaii will be the Governor’s second Resilient Hawaii Forum, a free and open session being held during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) conference on March 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. As mentioned in his 2014 State of the State Address, the Governor is convening the forums this year to engage stakeholders – Native Hawaiian organizations, natural resource managers, the military, tourism officials, agricultural representatives, researchers and government at all levels – to create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. For more information on the PRiMO conference, visit http://collaborate.csc.noaa.gov/PRiMO/Pages/index.aspx.

Navigating Change
Read Navigating Change, Hawaii’s Approach to Adaptation, a report presented by Gov. Abercrombie at the first meeting of the President’s Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience in December 2013: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change/.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow still active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

View of the flow front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, looking west. The flow front has focused into a new lobe that is slowly migrating through thick forest, triggering scattered forest fires. The smoke from these fires seems to be “seeding” the cloud above it. The active flow front was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Mauna Loa can be seen in the distance.

Top: Looking northeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, the smoke coming from forest fires at the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow can be seen in the distance. In the foreground, thick fume is coming from the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava tube, which is supplying lava to the flow front. Bottom: View of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. This small cone is also the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. The cone has recently hosted a small lava pond, but today this seemed to be crusted over. See the time-lapse sequences below to see recent activity at this cone.

Thermal image of the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Yellow and white areas depict active breakouts, while red areas are cooler, inactive portions of the flow. Over the past week a new lobe has pushed east, between lobes that were active in November and January. The tip of this new lobe was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Compare this view to the February 20 map (see link above).

Spattering and gas pistoning in the northeast cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō

This selection of images shows activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past two weeks. The lava pond was undergoing gas pistoning, a gradual buildup and release of gas in the lava pond that is often associated with spattering and lava level changes. For scale, the lava pond is about 10 m (30 feet) across.

More images of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō, taken with a time-lapse camera.

This Quicktime movie shows a time-lapse sequence of activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater on February 9-10. Rapid fluctuations in the height of the lava pond are caused by gas pistoning, which is the gradual buildup and release of gas in the pond. Mauna Kea is visible in the upper right portion of the frame. The sequence was captured by an inexpensive time-lapse camera, whose plastic housing was warped by the extreme heat.

Hawaiʻi Police Department’s 81st Recruit Class Recognized Today

The Hawaiʻi Police Department’s 81st Recruit Class was recognized Friday (February 14) during ceremonies held at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.

81st Recruit Class (left to right) - Bottom row: Melissa K. D'Angelo, Bradley M. Llanes, Samuel P. Sagario, Duane J. Rapoza Jr., David D. Poʻohina, Luke W. Sitts, Alexis L. Molina, James M. Rinkor, Briana M. Boyce, Chad E. Fontes, Shane K. Hanley. Top row: Roberto J. Segobia, John G. Kari, Bryson S. Miyose, Paul J. Wright III, Gibson G. K. Kahele, Chandler B. Nacino, Jeremiah J. Hull, Ewoud A. Bezemer, Jacob M. Obermiller, Daniel K. Tam, Len K. Hamakado. (Click to Enlarge)

81st Recruit Class (left to right) – Bottom row: Melissa K. D’Angelo, Bradley M. Llanes, Samuel P. Sagario, Duane J. Rapoza Jr., David D. Poʻohina, Luke W. Sitts, Alexis L. Molina, James M. Rinkor, Briana M. Boyce, Chad E. Fontes, Shane K. Hanley. Top row: Roberto J. Segobia, John G. Kari, Bryson S. Miyose, Paul J. Wright III, Gibson G. K. Kahele, Chandler B. Nacino, Jeremiah J. Hull, Ewoud A. Bezemer, Jacob M. Obermiller, Daniel K. Tam, Len K. Hamakado. (Click to Enlarge)

The police recruits, who just completed six months of intensive training, will undergo four months of on-the-job field training with veteran police officers before they are qualified to work alone.

During Friday’s ceremony, Class President John G. Kari said the class started with 30 individuals from all walks of life who evolved into a cohesive unit of 22.

In recognition of Valentine’s Day, Police Chaplain Renee Godoy advised the recruits to “guard your heart” and Police Commission Chair John Bertsch talked about love and passion for the job. “Love means that we love what we do,” Bertsch said. “Passion means that we are passionate about what we do.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi congratulated the recruits for “having the courage to dream and the determination to make those dreams come true.” He told them that in addition to their commitment to their job, they should take care of themselves and appreciate their families. “The most important thing is not the job, it’s your family,” he said. “Always go home and hug them and tell them, ‘Thank you.’”

County Council Chairman J Yoshimoto told the recruits that the Police Department has the support of the council. “You have our gratitude and appreciation,” he said.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Christian Kimo Alameda, statewide director of the Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity, who provides “aloha training” to members of the police department. He stressed the importance of making positive choices. “I wish you guys the best,” he said. “It’s a tough world out there.”

During the ceremony, three officers received special recognition for excellence. They were Luke W. Sitts, who excelled in academic training, Daniel K. Tam who excelled in firearms training, and class Vice President Roberto J. Segobia, who excelled in physical fitness training.

The other members of the 81st Recruit Class are: Ewoud A. Bezemer, Briana M. Boyce, Melissa K. D’Angelo, Chad E. Fontes, Len K. Hamakado, Shane K. Hanley, Jeremiah J. Hull, Gibson G. K. Kahele, Bradley M. Llanes, Bryson S. Miyose, Alexis L. Molina, Chandler B. Nacino, Jacob M. Obermiller, David D. Poʻohina, Duane J. Rapoza Jr., James M. Rinkor, Samuel P. Sagario and Paul J. Wright III.

The class motto is “Pūpūkahi I Holomua,” which means “Unite to Move Forward.”

54-Year-Old Hilo Man Arrested in Connection with Hilo Robbery

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged the 54-year-old Hilo man who was arrested Thursday (February 6) in connection with a reported robbery in Downtown Hilo on Wednesday (February 5).

John Michael Kapahu

John Michael Kapahu

At 5:05 p.m. Friday (February 7), detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section charged John Michael Kapahu with second-degree robbery. His bail was set at $25,000. He was being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial appearance scheduled for Monday (February 10).

At about 12:03 p.m. Wednesday, police responded to the Moʻoheau bus terminal after receiving a report of a fight. A 32-year-old Hakalau man reported that an acquaintance took an undisclosed amount of money from him while at Moʻoheau Bandstand. When the victim attempted to retrieve the money, the suspect reportedly punched him several times and fled the area.

The victim sustained facial injuries. Fire Department medics took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated and later released.

Thursday morning, police arrested Kapahu, who has no permanent address, and held him at the police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory Update

February 7, 2014 – Lava flows remain active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and a lava pond in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater

A wide view of activity from the east rift zone to the summit. In the foreground, Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater emits fume from numerous sources on the crater floor. One of these cones hosts a small lava pond, and can be seen at the far right edge of the photo, marked by a small bit of incandescence. Snow-covered Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are in the distance (left and right sides of photo, respectively). In front of Mauna Loa, the plume from the summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu crater can be seen drifting west.

Top: A closer view of the lava pond at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. The pond is about 10 m (about 30 ft) wide, and was undergoing cycles of gas pistoning. The lava level would slowly and quietly rise a meter (yard) or more over about five minutes, and vigorous spattering would commence. As the gas was released, the lava level would drop to its previous level and the cycle would begin again.  Bottom: Pāhoehoe breakouts were scattered at the far end of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow today, as far as 6.9 km (4.3 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. This photo shows some typical activity on the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, with snow-covered Mauna Kea in the distance.

A close-up view of the lava pond in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. The lava surface was quietly rising when this photo was taken. When the lava reached a critical level, vigorous spattering would begin at the large area of incandescence seen here. The rim of the lava pond is covered in a thick coating of spatter from similar events.

Rescue Crews Find Missing Fisherman Safe Off Kauai

A fisherman who spent the night off the coast of Kauai is safe after Coast Guard rescue crews located him five miles off of Kapa’a, Kauai, Thursday.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a call at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, from a man reporting that his friend was overdue on his 14-foot Boston Whaler. The 61-year-old fisherman departed from the Waikaea Canal in Kapa’a, Kauai earlier in the day to fish a few miles off of Kapa’a with group of other fishing boats.

Waikaea Canal

Waikaea Canal

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu launched a 47-Motor Life Boat crew from Station Kauai, the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, a C-130 Hercules airplane crew and two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to search for the man.

An urgent marine information broadcast was also issued to all mariners in the area, asking for their assistance in locating the missing mariner.

The Kauai Fire Department and Kauai Police Department also joined the search.

At 8:09 a.m., one of the Dolphin helicopter crews located the fisherman and directed the MLB crew to the fisherman’s position. He was safely escorted back to Kapa’a Harbor.

The search covered nearly 2,000 square miles.

“If the mariner had a VHF radio on board, he likely would have overheard the Coast Guard’s Urgent Marine Information Broadcast being transmitted on Ch. 16 looking for him.” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Peterson, an operational watchstander at the Sector Honolulu command center. “He then could have contacted the Coast Guard or other mariners for assistance.”

The mariner reported hearing a helicopter but the light he was flashing was not seen by rescue crews due to the weather conditions. He was not equipped with a VHF marine radio, GPS, compass or signal flares.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to ensure they are property equipped before heading out. This includes having life jackets, a VHF marine radio, flares and a compass or GPS.

For more information on boating safety, mariners can visit www.uscgboating.org

Medical Examiner Defers Cause of Death Following Autopsy of Man that Died After Being Arrested

An autopsy was conducted Wednesday (February 5) on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona, who died Tuesday in the course of an arrest.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

The medical examiner deferred the cause of death pending toxicology and histology results.

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Hatori, who was a passenger and was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his conducted electric weapon (commonly known as a “Taser”) in an attempt to subdue him. Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.

Fire Department EMTs on scene attempted resuscitation and then transported him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

Detectives recovered 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle.

The Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident as a coroner’s inquest and an assault on a police officer.

In addition, the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation, as is standard practice in any police involved death.

Alvarez remains at the Kona police cellblock while police investigate possible drug charges.

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps for South Kona

On February 7, 2014, a FEMA Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) for the areas of Hōnaunau, Keōkea, and a small section of Ki’ilae in South Kona, will become effective and create new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

countylogo

The LOMR, submitted to FEMA in early July of 2013, identifies new flood hazards as the area underwent an increase in residential and agricultural development since the orginal FIRMs was revised in 1988.

Structures located within a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) may be required to have flood insurance, if the structure is mortgaged by a U.S. government backed loan. Structures located outside the SFHA, are encouraged but not required to have flood insurance.

Property owners may check the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps at the Department of Public Works, Engineering division in Hilo weekdays, from 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM.

Wordless Wednesday: Invasion – Little Fire Ants in Hawaii (The Movie)

Invasive species introductions to Hawaii often end in regret and a list of should-haves.

little fire antThis film, produced by the Maui Invasive Species Committee, aims to change the result of the arrival of little fire ants in Hawaii.

Featuring videography from award-winning film makers Masako Cordray and Chris Reickert, this half-hour film examines the biology, impacts, and potential solutions to the spread of little fire ants through interviews with scientists, farmers, and community on the Big Island reeling from the impacts of this minuscule, but devastating, ant.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Viewers will learn how to identify and report new infestations, helping to protect Hawaii from this small stinging ant.

More info here: http://www.lfa-hawaii.org/

39-Year-Old Kona Man Dies After Being Arrested

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 39-year-old Kona man who died in police custody.

Ernest Alvares

Ernest Ricky  Alvarez

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

His passenger, 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona—who was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders—fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. During the struggle, the officer sustained injuries. Other officers responded to the scene. After Hatori was in police custody at the scene, he became unresponsive. Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53. a.m.

The officer required treatment for his injuries at Kona Community Hospital.

Alvarez was taken to the Kona police cellblock. In addition to the contempt charge, he was arrested on suspicion of promoting a dangerous drug. He remains at the cellblock while detectives continue that investigation.

Police have initiated a corner’s inquest investigation in connection with Hatori’s death. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

As is standard practice in any police involved death, the Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Annual Report Highlights Hawaii’s Improving Economic, Fiscal Trajectory

The State of Hawaii’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, has been completed and shows Hawaii’s asset growth has outpaced liability growth for the first time in seven years.

Fiscal

The 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the State of Hawaii, measures the state’s net position as a broad indicator of its net worth and overall fiscal health.

“The report measures the state’s net worth and overall fiscal health, which clearly shows strong positive fiscal growth over fiscal year 2012,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “Our improving trajectory is a reflection of positive trends in our local economy and responsible management of fiscal affairs, which now includes recognized improvements in meeting our obligations for timely reporting.”

The state Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) in coordination with the Department of Budget and Finance and the Office of the Legislative Auditor completed the CAFR on Jan. 27, 2014. The report shows the State of Hawaii’s net position (assets less liabilities) for primary governmental activities increased for the first time since 2006 by $307.1 million, from $4.5 billion to $4.8 billion. This represents an increase of 6.8 percent over 2012. Assets increased by $1.1 billion, which outpaced an increase in liabilities of $807 million. The growth in assets is attributable to accelerating growth in revenues and slower-paced growth in operating expenditures.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was joined by Comptroller Dean Seki and Finance Director Kalbert Young to announce the public release of the 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the State of Hawaii, which measures the state's net position as a broad indicator of its net worth and overall fiscal health.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was joined by Comptroller Dean Seki and Finance Director Kalbert Young to announce the public release of the 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the State of Hawaii, which measures the state’s net position as a broad indicator of its net worth and overall fiscal health.

In addition, for the first time in more than five years, the state received the Award of Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2012 CAFR. The award is given to governments for publishing financial reports that are clear, accurate, and delivered in a timely manner. Under the Abercrombie Administration, DAGS along with the Department of Budget and Finance have worked with the Office of the Legislative Auditor and an external auditor to address deficiencies in the timely production of previous CAFRs.

“The CAFR represents a coordinated and truly collaborative effort of all state departments with the Legislative Auditor and external auditor,” said DAGS Comptroller Dean Seki. “For each of the last three years, the CAFR has been delivered in a more timely manner, compared to the state’s delivery prior, and will serve as a helpful guide for anyone who has interest in the financial operations of the state.”

Fiscal3

State Finance Director Kalbert Young commended: “Investors and credit agencies expect year-end financial reports to be available as soon as possible after the closing of the fiscal year so that the information is not outdated. We believe the state can continue to improve delivery of future reports.”

The CAFR also identified an encouraging decrease in capital projects fund standing balances from $281 million to $149 million. This reflects an increase in capital improvement project activity as more funds were deployed with improved efficiency into the economy through construction projects.

PowerPoint Presentation

Addressing Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Young added: “The report illustrates the importance of pre-paying annual required contribution for OPEB liabilities, as Gov. Abercrombie has been advocating over the last three years. The successful passage of Act 268 in 2013 and our intending Annual Required Contribution (ARC) contribution of $100 million in fiscal year 2014 should start to slow and then reverse the increase on the balance sheet and further improve our asset ratio.”

The State of Hawaii’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, is available online at: http://ags.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/soh-cafr-20130630.pdf

Big Island Now Has Only One Crime Stoppers Number – 961-8300

Hawaiʻi Island now has one Crime Stoppers telephone number to serve the entire island. The number is 961-8300.

HPDBadgeIn the past, two community organizations ran Crime Stoppers operations, one serving East Hawaiʻi and one serving West Hawaiʻi.

The community organization that previously served East Hawaiʻi now operates islandwide.

Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. When you call Crime Stoppers, you will be given a code number to track the status of your case. By calling later and giving your code number, you can find out whether you qualify for a reward.

If the Crime Stoppers board of directors selects you for a reward, you will be directed to an agreed-upon location to pick up the money. You will never be required to provide your name. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record any calls or subscribe to caller ID.

Big Island Police Searching for Suspect in Hilo Robbery This Morning

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a robbery Friday morning (January 31) in Hilo.

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Between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., a 31-year-old man was standing on the sidewalk on the mauka side of Kanoelehua Avenue near the intersection of Leilani Street when he was approached by a man on a bicycle who brandished a knife and demanded money. The suspect then rode north with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The victim was not injured in the robbery.

The suspect is described as Caucasian, thin, in his mid 30s to early40s with long hair. He was wearing a white tank top, bright red or orange shorts and was carrying a light-colored messenger bag.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the robbery or who knows the identity of the suspect to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Senator Introduces Law Enforcement Bills

Senator Will Espero, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, introduced six bills related to law enforcement that address several concerns of public safety around the state.
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“These bills will improve and strengthen our law enforcement at the county and state level,” said Espero (D, ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages). “The bills are good for law enforcement officers and for the general public as a whole.”

One of the bills, SB2590, prompted by the Christopher Deedy trial, in which the defendant, a federal agent, was charged with murder after shooting a man at a fast-food restaurant after a night of bar-hopping, seeks to prohibit all county and state law enforcement officers from the consumption of alcohol while carrying a firearm. (On Aug. 26, 2013, a Honolulu judge declared a mistrial as the jury was unable to reach a verdict.)

“We expect the best from those who serve and protect, and we hold them to the highest standards,” said Espero. “This bill helps to ensure the safety of both civilians and law enforcement in the state.”

“On another issue of firearms, I’ve introduced a bill that would establish an online firearms registration process to streamline the process for owners and officials,” he added, “One of the biggest complaints about government is inefficiency. With this measure, everyone will save time and money.”

IMPROVING AND STRENGTHENING LAW ENFORCEMENT

SB2937 Relating to a Law Enforcement Standards Board

Establishes a statewide law enforcement standards board for the licensing and certification of county police officers, state public safety officers, and employees of the departments of transportation and land and natural resources with police powers. Establishes a special fund. Appropriates funds.  Hawaii is only state in the nation without any state-level regulation of police.

SB2591 Relating to Law Enforcement

Requires the chief of each county police department to submit an annual report to the legislature of misconduct incidents that resulted in suspension or discharge of a police officer from the calendar year immediately prior to the year of the report submission. Requires the county police departments to provide updated information in each successive annual report until the highest non-judicial grievance adjustment procedure has concluded. Requires the county police departments to retain the disciplinary records in accordance with its record retention policy or for at least six months, whichever period is longer.

SB2589 Relating to Law Enforcement

Transfers the law enforcement functions of the harbors division of the department of transportation to the department of public safety, effective July 1, 2016.

SB2938 Relating to Firearms Registration

Requires each county to establish an online firearms registration process to be fully implemented by July 1, 2015.

SB2590 Relating to Firearms

Prohibits state and county law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry firearms from consuming alcohol or ingesting prescription medications that would impair the judgment or physical response of the employee while carrying a firearm. Prohibits the consumption of alcohol for an unspecified number of hours prior to carrying a firearm.

SB2588 Relating to Unsworn Falsification to a Law Enforcement Officer

Creates the offense of unsworn falsification to a law enforcement officer and a penalty of not less than a misdemeanor.

Man Wanted in Connection With Robbery Involving Hatchet Arrested

A a Kaʻū man who was being sought in connection with a robbery involving a hatchet has been arrested.

Kainoa Kahele-Bishop

Kainoa Kahele-Bishop

Kaʻū patrol officers arrested 23-year-old Kainoa Kahele-Bishop of Ocean View Thursday morning (January 30). He was taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

The arrest stems from a report Sunday (January 26) that a 47-year-old Discovery Harbor woman walking near her parked car on South Point Road had been threatened with a hatchet by another woman who got out of a white Toyota sedan.

The two women scuffled and the victim was able to take the hatchet away and throw it into the brush on the side of the road. During the scuffle, the victim suffered a bite on the right forearm. A man then exited the Toyota, reached into the victim’s car and removed a bag containing a laptop, a cellular telephone and a wallet.

The male suspect fled in the Toyota after a passerby stopped to intervene. The female suspect entered the victim’s car and unsuccessfully attempted to start it. She then ran into the bushes.

Trinety Crapser

Trinety Crapser

Police investigation led to the identity of the suspects. The woman, 25-year-old Trinety Crapser of Ocean View, was arrested Monday (January 27) and charged Tuesday (January 28) with first-degree robbery, third-degree assault and unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle.

Hiker Caught in Hawaii Snowstorm is Rescued from Mauna Loa

Park rangers rescued a lone hiker Thursday morning who was  stranded on Mauna Loa after a winter snowstorm pummeled  the summit and lower elevations with heavy snow and high winds.

Search-and-rescue pilot David Okita shows snow-covered Mauna Loa and the cindercone Pohaku o Hanalei in foreground, near where Sverdlov was spotted. Snow-covered Mauna Kea is seen in the distance.

Search-and-rescue pilot David Okita shows snow-covered Mauna Loa and the cindercone Pohaku o Hanalei in foreground, near where Sverdlov was spotted. Snow-covered Mauna Kea is seen in the distance.

Last Sunday, New York resident Alex Sverdlov, 36, began the grueling 18-mile trek from the top of Mauna Loa Road at 6,662 feet towards the summit of Mauna Loa. He reached the 13,677-foot summit on Tuesday, after dropping off his heavy gear at a lower elevation.  The snowstorm struck on his late-afternoon descent, creating a blinding white-out. Night fell, and after a few futile attempts to locate his pack, Sverdlov decided to hunker down in the snow until daylight. His only protection was the clothes he had on, and a bottle of frozen water.

Earlier Tuesday, park management closed the mountain to visitors because of the dangerous weather. Sverdlov was the only registered hiker, and park rangers tried unsuccessfully to call his cell phone. They drove up Mauna Loa Road, and confirmed his car was there. When Sverdlov’s car was still there Wednesday afternoon, Park Ranger John Broward decided to search for him by helicopter Thursday morning. Sverdlov was located by 9 a.m.

Rescued hiker Alex Sverdlov (middle) stands with his rescuers, park ranger John Broward (right) and park ranger Tyler Paul (left) outside the park's Visitor Emergency Operations Center on Thursday.  NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Rescued hiker Alex Sverdlov (middle) stands with his rescuers, park ranger John Broward (right) and park ranger Tyler Paul (left) outside the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center on Thursday. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

“I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” said Sverdlov, an experienced hiker who successfully summited Mauna Loa last winter. After locating his pack Wednesday morning, the deep snow made it impossible to gain much ground, and he spent a second frozen night on the mountain. Sverdlov worried that he’d die on Mauna Loa, and was astonished when he heard the helicopter.

“Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park,” said Broward, who serves as the park’s search-and-rescue coordinator. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We’re all fortunate this had a happy ending.”

On Thursday afternoon, his face sun-burned and wind-whipped, Sverdlov applied for another backcountry permit, for the park’s remote coastal area. “This time I’m going to the sunny part of the park,” he said.

Two Students Arrested at Hilo High School After Explosion Puts School on Lockdown

Two high school students are in police custody in connection with a small explosion at Hilo High School.

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No one was injured in the incident.

At 11:34 a.m. Thursday (January 30), South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report that a device had detonated on campus. When police arrived, the school went into lockdown.

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Police recovered the remnants of a plastic liquid container and an unidentified liquid substance. The device was in an open corridor near the school’s auditorium. The only damage was residue at the site.

Patrol officers and school security guards screened the campus for any additional devices but found none.

Lockdown3The lockdown was lifted shortly before 1 p.m.
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Two 16-year-old male students were arrested and taken into custody while detectives from the Juvenile Aid Section continue the investigation.