About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Community Policing Officer Aron Tomota has been transferred to Kona, with a warm sendoff by
Capt. Kenneth Quiocho and Capt. Dane Shibuya who returns to community policing in Ka`u.
Photo by Ann Bosted
     Tomota’s last shift in Ka’u began with a surprise party given to him by Captain Kenneth Quiocho, and fellow police officers at the Na’alehu Police Station. Quiocho was quick to praise Tomota’s dedication to the Ocean View community and his key role in at least three areas - making the Kahuku park once again safe for children, in dramatically reducing the burglary rate in Ocean View, and in boosting interest in Neighborhood Watch meetings.
Aron Tomota organized Coffee with a Cop in Na`alehu and at the Ka`u 
Coffee Festival . Another will be held at Ocean View Community 
Center on July 25 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Photo by Ann Bosted 
     Quiocho had one complaint, however. He noted that Tomota and his colleagues arrested so many criminals in Ocean View and then sent them, restrained, to Kona for investigation, that the Ka’u police ran out of leg irons and belly chains. “We had to ask the Kona station to send them back quickly, so we could make more arrests,” explained Quiocho with a poorly disguised look of satisfaction.
     In an interview with The Ka’u Calendar, Tomota recounted the back story of the recent cleanup of the notorious Kahuku Park – a playground, picnic area and sports field originally intended for recreation, but recently “taken over” by alleged drug addicts and predators. Community leaders were very concerned for the safety of their keiki as the park is a stop for the school busses.
Tomota concentrated on community
policing in Ocean View during his
seven months here. Photo by Ann Bosted
   As the community policing officer for Ocean View, Tomota’s kuleana is proactive policing. While all police officers respond to reports of crimes, the community policing officer also makes sure that problem areas are identified and deals with potentially serious problems before they become crimes.
     In June, Tomota and his team focused on cleaning up Kahuku Park. In their first five days, they visited the park at random times, day and night. They arrested ten alleged offenders, five of who were arrested for drinking in public. They were transported to Kona, given a court date and released.
     The campaign resumed from July 3 to July 14, and in seven days of random visits to the park, the police arrested 13 alleged offenders. Each time, they noticed that the number of adults loitering at the park was down. Of the 13 arrests, one was for drinking in public and the remaining 12 were for bench warrant offenses. “That was when we ran out of the leg irons and belly chains that the Captain complained about,” explained Tomota. “It is a complaint I can live with.”
     “Every time we visit the park, we see more and more keiki using the park. I counted 60 kids playing baseball, or playing on the swings. Innocent fun is back and that makes it all worthwhile,” said Tomota with a huge grin. “As a token welcome-back gift, we gave each child a brightly colored police department pencil,” he added.
    “Each time we visit the park we get a lot of thanks from the adults. Parents and community leaders are noticing the difference and letting us know”.
Community policing officer Aron Tomota.
     Making Kahuku Park safe for keiki is not the only lasting contribution made by Tomota and his his colleagues, who, earlier this year, were able to reduce the monthly tally of burglaries from 21 in January, to 11 in February, then three in March and one in April.
     Reflecting on this achievement, Tomota again gave the backstory.
     “Twenty-one burglaries in Ocean View in January spelled out “C-R-I-S-I-S” in Ka’u,” he said. “We were looking at a third of the burglaries for the whole island happening in one town of about 6,500 people. It was off the scale! We decided a crack-down was needed, and soon.
     “On February 10, with a lot of assistance, a task force was formed focusing on the area. Kona Police officers came to Ka’u to help with the crack down, including help from community policing, traffic enforcement, criminal intelligence and some vice officers. A detective from Kona, (Ka`u native) Pernell Hanoa, was particularly helpful. Major Robert Wagner oversaw the operations and was instrumental in developing the action plan.
     “I made a list of 25 people of interest, who, we felt, could have been responsible for much of the crime wave, or perhaps associated with known criminals. We talked to people in the community and found out with whom these people were associating, where they liked to go and more about their MO (modus operandi). We found trends and could link suspects to burglaries by how the illegal entry was made, what was taken and background information.”
     Tomota explained why the task force was effective. “Our main objective was to show a strong police presence. Of the 25 people of interest, I estimate that we contacted about 75percent. We would stop anybody that was walking suspiciously, hanging out or driving. A contact could include being cited, arrested for cause, questioned or pulled over, according to the circumstances of the contact. We call it ‘pro-active’ patrolling, as opposed to ‘reactive’ where we wait for the crime and then react,” he explained. “We also stopped and talked to residents, who were more than willing to share their information with us.
     “I cannot emphasize enough how important community cooperation is to the police,” Tomota earnestly explained. “I love getting tips from the Neighborhood Watch. We urge them to call us and work with us; we do so and have success; they like it and have more faith in us and work more with us. Its win-win,” he explained.
     “We now have over 40 people at the Neighborhood Watch meetings. They are more structured and more purposeful. We discuss current issues and what we can do to fix the problems. This is collective team work. We are reaching out and they are responding,” Tomota added.
     Tomota’s commitment to the Neighborhood Watch was underlined when he was able to arrange for the county to donate five Neighborhood Watch signs to Ocean View.  Four have been installed in HOVE and one is awaiting installation in Ranchos.”
     Tomota, who is now a community policing officer in Kona, where he lives, was asked if he was pleased to be working locally.
     “I am very sad to leave Ka’u,” he confessed. “My wife and kids are ecstatic to have me closer to home and not have to do the long commute.
     “But I have enjoyed my seven months here. I feel like I have clicked with the community. When I was first assigned to Ka’u I just wanted to make a difference.” 

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While Hurricane Fernanda is is decline other storms have lined up on a path toward Hawai`i. Fernanda is followed
by Tropical Disturbance Eight-E and Tropical Storm Greg.
Image from wunderground.com
HURRICANE FERNANDA made a small comeback today, according to the National Hurricane Center, with its eye becoming distinct in the visible satellite imagery in the midst of of a ragged ring of very cold cloud tops. The Category Two storm is spinning east of Hawai`i at about 105 miles per hour but is still expected to become a Depression before reaching Hawaiian waters. Behind her are the makings of storms. First is Tropical Disturbance Eight-E, followed by Tropical Storm Greg, which is predicted to reach 60 mph before weakening to a post tropical remnant low before entering Hawaiian waters.

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POTENTIAL PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT FUNDING is coming to Hawai`i from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Sen. Mazie Hirono, who announced today that the amount will be $6,125,363.
Mosquitoes carrying Zika, dengue
and other diseases will be targets
of new CDC funding in Hawai`i.
Photo from CDC
      “Our experience fighting Zika, dengue, and other diseases has taught us how important it is for states and local governments to have the resources they need to confront potential public health threats,” said Hirono. “I will continue to push to ensure that Hawai`i receives the funding it needs to prepare for and respond to future public health emergencies.”
     The federal funding was awarded to the state Department of Health to support its Disease Outbreak Control Division’s Public Health Preparedness Branch, which helps DOH respond to public health threats, emergencies, and disasters that threaten local communities throughout the state.
     The funds will help DOH recruit and train emergency operations personnel, strengthen connections with the Native Hawaiian health care system, conduct
community assessments, improve risk communication messaging systems, and expand partnerships for medical countermeasure dispensing operations.
     A statement from Hirono's office said that she "is a strong advocate for increasing resources needed to support critical public health preparedness investments that protect public health in Hawai`i and the nation. Earlier this year, she took the lead on sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt and Ranking Member Patty Murray urging for the continued funding of programs that help ensure that the nation’s hospitals and public health systems are able to safeguard against public health threats.
Hālau Nā Pua O Uluhaimālama performs Wednesday
evening at Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium
Photo from the halau

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HEAVENLY VOICES on Wednesday features Hālau Nā Pua O Uluhaimālama, which is dedicated to perpetuating the culture and the arts of the hula. They are led by Kumu Hula Emery Aceret, a student of the revered Kumu Hula Ray Fonseca and have participated in many notable hula competitions through the years. They perform from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kīlauea Visitor Center audutorium. Free, park entrance fees apply.

Finian's Rainbow continues its run at Kilauea Military Camp's Kilauea Theater next Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $15 for seniors 60 plus and students and $12 for children 12 and under, available at the door. For more information or to make a reservation, contact KDEN at 982-7344 or kden73@aol.com.