2014: Stopping Crime is Top Legislative Priority

With the alarming rise in property crime and the recent violent stabbing of a Kailua man, crime control is one of my primary concerns this Legislative Session. On the House side, I am introducing and supporting measures which will battle crime and help keep our neighborhoods safe.

In 2012, property crime accounted for approximately 93% of all reported crime across the state. That is why I am introducing House Bill 1542 directed toward repeat property crime offenders. This bill will require that a repeat offender serve his or her entire one-year term of imprisonment imposed as a condition of probation. Too often criminals are allowed to slide out of the justice system prematurely, resulting in repeat offenders who negatively affect our community.

I am also introducing House Bill 1520 which similarly addresses repeat criminal offenders. Specifically, HB1520 proposes that when the conviction is for a class A, B, or C felony, murder in the second degree, or attempted murder in the second degree, the repeat offender be sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence without the possibility of parole. Perhaps if we had stronger recidivism consequences for criminals, those terrorizing Kailua would be less likely to commit crime at all.

House Bill 1521 rounds out my package of crime-related bills which I will personally introduce this session. HB1521 creates a mandatory minimum sentencing period of imprisonment for any person who is convicted for and has a prior conviction for unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle in the first degree. The fact that Kailua’s citizens view parking their cars on the street as a liability when patronizing our local businesses is unacceptable, and in my view these harsher penalties will help to alleviate such concerns and lead to a more vibrant local economy.

An often overlooked area of dangerous crime in the community is identity theft, especially for our kupuna, and while physical crimes have seen a surge in Kailua, it is also important to protect our electronic presence and personal information, too. One bill under consideration which I co-introduced is House Bill 2080 relating to theft of personal electronic devices. HB2080 would classify theft of personal electronic devices that may be used to store or retrieve personal information as a class C felony, with devices defined as a personal computer, laptop computer, tablet computer, cellular phone, personal digital assistant, or any other device capable of storing personal information. By protecting our personal information, we can also prevent criminals from using our names and personal resources to commit additional crimes.

The string of criminal events in recent months, while tragic and terrifying, have kick started the discussion on how to best address these issues in an effective way. Will these bills solve all of Kailua’s crime problems? No. Will these bills further efforts to deter criminals, decrease crime as a whole, and inflict stricter punishments on those who cross the line our community? Absolutely.