Pubdate: Tue, 20 Aug 2002
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Contact:  2002 West Hawaii Today
Author: Tiffany Edwards
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: For more on ice, medical cannabis and cannabis eradication in Hawaii
go to


HILO - A councilman is moving to get four more officers on the street to
combat the island's ice problem.

Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong last week drafted legislation to transfer
$215,000 from the County Council's "contingency relief" account to fund four
positions in the Police Department's vice section, specifically for "a
crystal methamphetamine task force."

The contingency relief account includes funds trimmed from other county
departments during the budget process, yet were not earmarked for a specific
purpose and spent with the council's discretion. 

Yagong's bill comes a week before a methamphetamine summit in Waikoloa at
which 300 participants are expected to brainstorm on how to combat the ice
problem here. 

The summit is one of six the National Crime Prevention Council and the Drug
Enforcement Administration have arranged across the nation. Representatives
from both federal agencies are expected to speak at the summit, as well as
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D - Hawaii. 

As the mayor's executive assistant Billy Kenoi pointed out in a recent
report to the mayor, "the fact that (the summit) will be held on the Big
Island emphasizes how serious a problem we have and, more importantly, that
we have the national and state resource providers' attention and commitment
to helping us address this problem."

Yagong wrote Mayor Harry Kim this week that police have said they do not
have enough personnel "to effectively deal with this growing epidemic."

"Our 10 vice officers in East Hawaii and eight vice officers in West Hawaii
currently handle marijuana eradication, cockfighting, prostitution, other
hard drugs, etc... in addition to dealing with the ice epidemic!" Yagong
wrote. "This is an impossible task especially with the current explosion of
ice abuse in our county. We need to support the vice section with more
personnel, or simply stated, we will lose the 'war on ice.'"

Yagong said four more officers for the Police Department are "not nearly
enough personnel that is needed to battle hard drugs on this island" but
added it is "a positive first step."

"Hopefully other avenues of funding will come about during the discussions
at the ice summit which could provide us with more personnel support from
the DEA and other law enforcement agencies," Yagong wrote. 

He noted the County Council can fund positions, but the mayor has the
authority to create positions. 

Meanwhile, Kenoi's report last month to Kim emphasized the need for more
officers, and included a long list of needs for this county to effectively
combat the ice problem.

"We have to support the efforts of the community with resources. We need
more law enforcement personnel, we need more prosecutors, we need more court
staff, probation officers, treatment options, high - end/intensive treatment
options including residential programs. We need a greater diversity of
treatment options including cultural and faith - based treatment programs,
vocational/rehabilitation programs, in addition to a whole range of
prevention and education efforts."

Also in Kenoi's report:

- - Hawaii residents lead the nation for use in ice or crystal methamphetamine
for the fourth year in a row, up from 4 percent in 1991

- - Big Island arrests for ice distribution increased 431 percent from 1997 to

- - Big Island arrests for ice between 1999 and 2000 rose 84 percent, from 159
to 292

- - ice treatment admissions in Hawaii increased 44 percent in 1997

- - The Big Island in 1998 recorded a 50 percent increase in people meeting
the criteria for needing treatment for methamphetamine use, from 690 to

- - In that same year, according to the Big Island Substance Abuse Council,
the prevalence of frequent methamphetamine use among males, ages 18 to 24,
more than tripled 

- - Child Protective Services indicates 85 percent to 90 percent of its
caseload is ice - or drug - related

- - A 1998 Family Court survey found 50 percent of women and 28 percent of
boys admitted to ice use

Incidentally, Yagong first considered a moratorium on marijuana eradication
"to reallocate our manpower resources to combat ice and other hard drugs,"
he said Friday.

"In doing research, I found that only 7 percent of the total man hours spent
in the vice section was on marijuana eradication, so the manpower impact
would be almost insignificant."

Specifically, vice spent 2,400 hours, including 400 hours of overtime, on
marijuana eradication in 2001 versus 37,000 hours of total manpower hours,
Yagong said, having received the numbers from Lt. Henry Tavares, who leads
the Hilo vice section. 

"If you truly want to have an impact, you have to create positions," Yagong
said, including more DEA officers on the Big Island. 

Currently, one officer is assigned to the Big Island.
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