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Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Feb. 6, 2024

A mission of the U.S. Coast Guard during humpback whale season in Hawai‘i is to protect them while
they are living in local waters, giving birth, nursing young and breeding. Photo from U.S. Coast Guard

Lt. Cmdr. Nic Iannarone, chief of enforcement for the U.S.
Coast Guard in Hawai‘i, focuses on protecting whales
through March 31 in Hawaiian waters.

OPERATION KOHOLĀ GUARDIAN IS UNDERWAY through March 31 with the U.S. Coast Guard partnering with NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and state Division of Conservation & Resource Enforcement. The aim is reduce risk to humpback whales in Hawaiian waters.
    A Coast Guard statement says that "Operation Koholā Guardians is a focused mission that occurs during peak whale season, from January to March, that was designed to monitor and protect humpback whales, enforce humpback whale regulations, provide outreach and education to the community, and respond to distressed whales."
    Thousands of humpback whales seasonally use the waters around the Hawaiian Islands as their principal breeding and calving wintering grounds. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is one of 15 National Marine Sanctuaries designated as special areas set aside for long-term protection and conservation and provides extremely important habitat for humpback whales.
    Mariners and visitors are reminded that the following activities are prohibited and unlawful:
    A vessel, individual, or drone approaching within 100 yards of any humpback whale.
    Operating an aircraft within 1,000 feet of any humpback whale, except as necessary for takeoff or landing from an airport or runway.

    Harassing, hunting, capturing, or killing, or any attempt to do any of these actions, of any humpback whale in the sanctuary.
    “Operation Koholā Guardian is a shining example of how the Coast Guard, alongside our invaluable partners at NOAA and the Hawai'i Division of Conservation & Resource Enforcement, effectively safeguard the fragile marine ecosystems of the Hawaiian Islands,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nic Iannarone,  chief of enforcement at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Through collaborative efforts, shared intelligence, and coordinated patrols, we ensure the safety of protected and iconic species like humpback whales, while simultaneously fostering responsible practices amongst ocean users. This collaborative approach is not only crucial for enforcing regulations but also for educating the public and fostering an appreciation for the delicate balance of our marine environment."
    Those who see a violation or are involved in a collision with a whale, call the NOAA Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. If a phone call is not possible, hail the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

A partnership between U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA and DOCARE protects humpback whales this season in Hawai'i.
Photo from U.S. Coast Guard

ROBBING KAHUKU GIFTS & GARDEN SHOP IN OCEAN VIEW NETTED THE MAX, 15 YEARS IN PRISON for 21-year-old Derick Camacho of Captain Cook. Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen announced on Tuesday that the prison term is related to robbery, burglary, and unlawful imprisonment on July 20, 2023.
    The gift shop owner responded to the burglary after being notified by an alarm. Camacho, while wearing a ski mask-type cover over his face, assaulted, threatened, and bound the shop owner’s hands and feet with tape. 
Derrick Camacho received the maximum sentence of 15
years for robbery and tying up the owner of Kahuku 
Gift & Garden Shop
. Photo from County Prosecutor
    Police, responding to the scene, contacted Camacho and were able to compel him to release the shop owner by deploying conducted energy weapons (tasers) before placing him under arrest.
    The case was initiated by Kaʻū Patrol. The felony investigation was led by Detective Cacique Melendez with assistance from Detective Len Hamakado, Area II Criminal Investigation Section, Hawai‘i Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray Patrol. The felony investigation was led by Detective Cacique Melendez with assistance from Detective Len Hamakado, Area II Criminal Investigation Section, Hawai‘i Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray.  
    On Nov. 20, 2023, Camacho appeared in Kona Circuit Court where he entered No Contest pleas to charges of Robbery in the Second Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, and Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree. On Monday, Camacho was sentenced to serve a ten-year prison term for the robbery and five-year prison terms for both the burglary and unlawful imprisonment offenses. The Court ordered that the robbery and unlawful imprisonment offenses be served consecutively for a total of fifteen years.                
    Robbery in the Second Degree is a class B felony offense punishable by a maximum penalty of a ten-year prison term. Both Burglary in the Second Degree and Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree are class C felony offenses punishable by a maximum penalty of a five-year prison term. 
    “This sentence reaffirms our Office’s commitment to hold violent offenders accountable and protect our community,” said Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen. “We hope that this result provides closure to the victim and his family and a sense that justice was served.” 
    The statement from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney says its team "remains dedicated to the pursuit of justice with integrity and commitment. Anyone having information to assist local law enforcement should call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300. 

and statistics released Tuesday evening by the Hawai‘i County Prosecuting Attorney. The statement says that the graphic illustrates "the current overcrowding situation at the Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center in Hilo. HCCC is the primary correctional facility on Hawai‘i Island where most pre-trial and sentenced felons are housed."
    Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen said, “Our Office shares in our community’s concern regarding the unwarranted release of individuals facing serious felony charges. Nevertheless, judges often times refer to HCCC’s overcrowding as the basis to release offenders over prosecutors’ objections. This practice does not promote trust and confidence in our criminal justice system, instead creating doubts, fear, and concerns for public safety. Hawai‘i Island is in dire need of new and improved correctional facilities with the infrastructure to both house serious offenders and accommodate rehabilitative care and treatment, social services, cultural education, and reintegration assistance for incarcerated individuals to reduce recidivism and promote public safety.”
    According to the State of Hawai‘i, Department of Public Safety’s website, HCCC is a 226-bed facility
County Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen
located on two sites. The primary facility is situated on three acres in downtown Hilo. HCCC’s reintegration program, Hale Nani, is located five miles away in Panaewa. Hale Nani offers offenders reintegration services and a work release program for sentenced inmates who will be released on Hawai‘i Island. 
    HCCC also contracts transitional community residential program services for female offenders. Work opportunities are available through in-facility worklines and Correctional Industries. Inmates are also able to participate in community service worklines for county, state, and non-profit organizations.
    For more information on HCCC, the Corrections Division, and Hawai‘i's other correctional facilities, visit: https://dps.hawaii.gov/about/divisions/corrections/
#hawaiiprosecutors #buildcommunity #ourcommunity #corrections #publicsafety #hccc #hilo #kona #bigisland #hawaiiisland #ourcounty #hawaiicounty

THE UNNAMED SCHOOL THAT DREW POLICE TO ITS CAMPUS on Tuesday was neither in Volcano nor Kaʻū, according to social media reports that revealed the location of the scene as Hilo High School. 
    Hawai‘i Police Department released the following report without the name of the school: 
    "Hawai‘i Island Police were summoned to a local high school today, February 6, 2024, following
reports of a potential altercation that was to take place on the school campus. Police arrived at the school during recess hours to provide presence and prevent any altercation from taking place.
    "At about 9:30 a.m., a verbal altercation took place while police and school staff were present. School staff and police noted that the altercation quickly turned physical, and took action to stop the altercation from escalating, but during a potential brawl between two students, a police officer collided with a 51-year-old female administrator who was knocked to the ground while trying to separate the two students. The administrator did not receive any injuries, was treated at the hospital as a precaution, and was later released. The involved students were suspended from school.
    "In all, five students received suspension days in accordance with the Department of Education Chapter 19 Rules of Conduct.
    "The incident was captured on various cellular devices and posted to social media outlets, quickly popularizing and overplaying the incident with police and the school administrator, indicating that she was injured and is in critical condition. This is completely false.
    "Assistant Police Chief Kenneth Quiocho credited the school resource officer at the school for being there and in a position to get additional resources to quell the incident early on. Quiocho said 'it was disappointing to see the social media posts. The posts take away from the seriousness of what is occurring in our schools, and it is hopeful that the public will look at the incident and not believe everything they see and read on social media without supporting facts. This incident was serious and it was more alarming that this kind of altercation takes place in our schools.'”
    The HPD statement said that police "will continue to monitor any further potential incidents and take preventive measures to stop similar incidents from occurring. This particular incident demonstrates how imperative it is in our school system that we have school resource officers present and available as they are vital to the safety of our children in our schools."

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