HONOLULU — Domestic violence caseloads for Honolulu police skyrocketed 615 percent from 2013 to 2016, largely because of a 2014 law change that reclassified abuse suspected in the presence of children under age 14 to be classified as felonies, according to a report released by the city’s auditor.
The report released last week by City Auditor Edwin Young also concluded that there was not a corresponding increase in successful prosecutions.
Domestic violence cases handled by police jumped to an estimated 1,538 in 2016 from 215 in 2013.
City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro has maintained a “no drop” policy and will prosecute defendants even in cases where victims refuse or are unavailable to testify, leaving a low probability of success, the audit said.
The audit said police and prosecutors do not process cases with the same data collection system, making it difficult for them to share information when needed. It also said police and prosecutors, along with the state Judiciary, have different procedures for dealing with domestic violence cases, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2sm2luJ ).
The audit recommended that police and prosecutors agree to develop a common domestic violence system that allows them to share information while limiting access to sensitive or confidential information.
The 2014 law change that reclassified abuse in the presence of a child added to a backlog in domestic violence cases in the court system and increased the likelihood of case dismissals, the audit said.
The audit also said the law change “has not produced much for the efforts involved.”
Kaneshiro said he continues to support the 2014 law and won’t change his “no drop” policy.
“It is our view that protection of the victims outweighs the reduction of cases,” he said.
Hawaii’s police department said it has been using a new crime reporting system to share information with prosecutors.
The audit represents proof that many domestic violence cases are not prosecuted successfully, said Councilwoman Kymberly Pine.
“This audit proves the frustrations and real stories of women and men who are not seeing justice,” Pine said.