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Honolulu police officers are being suspended for domestic violence-related incidents but apparently not prosecuted, an action that could cost them their job.
A Civil Beat analysis of annual misconduct summaries shows no officers have lost their jobs even though police officials tried to terminate several over the past 13 years.
But there’s nothing to show that the Honolulu Police Department is turning the cases over for prosecution. Federal law bars anyone, including a police officer, with a domestic violence conviction from owning or carrying a gun.
The summaries that HPD must file with the Legislature every year show that domestic violence is not uncommon within the department.
In 2001, an officer who was drunk used a vehicle to pin a significant other against another car. That same officer had earlier hit the significant other in the face, also while drunk, according to the summary.
The records give no other details — no names, dates, not even the gender of either party.
The summary shows that this officer was discharged by the department but police officials say he or she got their job back on appeal. There is nothing to indicate the case was ever turned over to the Honolulu prosecutor and the prosecutor’s office can’t say whether charges were ever filed.
Civil Beat’s analysis turned up 25 incidents of domestic violence from 2000 through 2012. Three were discharged but their dismissals were not upheld, according to information provided by HPD.
Under the 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges are not allowed to own or possess a firearm. That’s also the case for people who are subject to certain restraining orders involving family members.
According to information compiled by the National Center for Women & Policing, 40 percent of police families experience domestic violence. Yet the center found it’s rare for an officer who goes to court for abusing a family member to lose their gun. Records are expunged or charges are reduced, the center says.
Hawaii’s public records law makes it impossible to know if county police departments are complying with the federal law, also known as the Lautenberg Amendment after U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who recently announced he won’t seek re-election.
Honolulu’s legislative reports give few details of domestic violence-related misconduct, and without names it’s difficult to find court records indicating whether an officer has been prosecuted or convicted.
Prosecuting attorneys tell Civil Beat they don’t track which police officers they’ve convicted of crimes. In the case of the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the descriptions in the legislative summaries were so generic that no one could say which officers the cases might have referred to.
Officials there also said they don’t have any pending domestic violence cases against HPD officers.
You can read HPD’s domestic violence incidents here:
Abused a household member
Abused a household member
Pled guilty to assault, criminal property damage and harassment in family court
Pushed spouse during an argument.
Threw a ring at a ‘significant other’ during a verbal argument, which caused swelling and bruising.
While off duty, hit a ‘significant other’ in the face, causing injury.
While intoxicated got into an argument with a ‘significant other’ and threatened that person with an issued firearm.
While intoxicated got into an argument with a ‘significant other’ and struck that person. On another date, while intoxicated, pinned a ‘significant other’ against a parked vehicle with another vehicle.
Was involved in a physical confrontation with a ‘significant other.’
Got into a verbal and physical with ‘significant other’ and significant other’s estranged spouse.
Left a threatening message on a former spouse’s answering machine.
Was involved in a physical confrontation with his girlfriend
Physically abused family members.
Used physical force against a family member
Used profanity and physical force against a former girlfriend
Involved in a physical confrontation with a household member
Involved in a physical altercation with a family member
Was involved in a domestic incident with spouse
Was involved in an argument with spouse that escalated into physical conflict
Exhibited unprofessional conduct by physically assaulting spouse
Struck an ex-girlfriend
Physically abused a live-in girlfriend
Assaulted a spouse during an argument
Was involved in a physical altercation with a family member. Violate a 24-hour warning.
Was involved with a physical altercation with a family member.
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