The lower satisfaction with the police on the island of Hawaii contradicts the experiences

Four seated students presenting to an audience
From the left in the panel: ooh Hilo students Caitlin Peil, Kelly “Amy” Black, Jake Villa, and Rosenet Timius

Hiloans are less satisfied with the Hawaii Police department (HPD) compared to the past, according to a survey project from the University of Hawaii in Hilo students. However, the findings contradict residents’ stories of personal encounters with officers.

For “Community Perspectives on Policing,” students in a criminology sociology class created a survey, conducted in-person interviews with 250 lifelong residents, analyzed data, and created various products, including a website, digital infographics , a video and a community presentation. . The objective was to assess how people in the East Hawaii what opinion the region has about the police and then compare, if possible, those perceptions with how people felt about the police in an earlier time (1930-1970).

The students shared their findings during a community forum that included Hawaii The island’s mayor, Mitch Roth, and the new police chief, Ben Moszkowicz, in May.

The project was initiated by Orient Hawaii Cultural Center, and the research students were from sociology and justice administration careers. The class, taught by Assistant Professor of Sociology Ellen Meiser, was divided into two parts. Students spent the first half of the semester learning about the theories of crime (ie, what are the social forces that influence people to commit crimes), and the second half was spent learning about the actors in the criminal justice system ( i.e. the police). , offender, victim, prosecutors, public defenders and judges).

“The goal is for students to better understand the roles of crime and the criminal justice system in our society,” Meiser said.

The survey covered several areas, including how the public feels about safety on the streets, public perceptions of the police, and how people are affected by incarceration directly or within their family.

Contradictory personal experiences.

Meiser said the perception survey results appear to contradict community members’ actual experiences with the Hawaii Police department.

“In fact, most of the people who had interactions with HPD for the last five years he considered those experiences to be fair and equitable. These people also described HPD officials in mostly positive terms,” Meiser said. “This contradiction, we argue, is likely due to national anti-police sentiment and local anecdotes about bad apple officers.”

Meiser said that student study also provides the Hawaii Police Department with recommendations directly from the community on how to improve these attitudes.

“We shared [the recommendations] with HPD and your police chief directly,” he said. “Hopefully, they will deeply consider what the community recommends and make some productive changes.”

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By Susan Enright