A Nice Memento For Criminals

Don Chapman
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February 03, 2010
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Hard to believe, but it’s been 15 years since MidWeek first published a CrimeStoppers’ Most Wanted Criminals cover story - quite shocking at the time for a publication known for publishing good news. Since then it’s been nearly an annual thing, and as mentioned in this week’s cover story (page 38) over the years MidWeek readers have helped take about 100 lawbreakers off the streets of Honolulu.

Congratulations and thank you!

This is, frankly, one of my favorite issues of the year. My good pal Rick Ornellas spent 25 years with HPD, and when we at MidWeek hear of yet another Most Wanted criminal captured and arrested, I get a sense of the satisfaction - and a bit of the rush - police officers find in their work.


We’ve also noted with a certain amusement that various other media outlets saw the attention MidWeek received when our Most Wanted were arrested, and in the truest form of flattery have given more coverage to CrimeStoppers’ bulletins. Hey, it’s all for a good cause, I say, so go for it.

Several readers over the years, most persistently the noted classical harpist Ruth Freedman, have suggested a weekly CrimeStoppers feature. Thanks to our president Dennis Francis, beginning next week we’ll introduce just such a feature. Which means that every week you’ll have the opportunity to be an active participant in fighting crime and making Our Town a safer place.

That said, we want to emphasize, as does HPD Sgt. Kim Buffett, CrimeStoppers coordinator, that you should never attempt to apprehend these fugitives from justice. Instead call the anonymous hotline (no caller ID and conversations are not recorded): 955-8300 or *CRIME on your cell phone.

You’ll be given a code number, and if your tip leads to a conviction, you’re eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Although many citizens decline, happy just to be contributing to the greater good, over the years Honolulu CrimeStoppers has paid nearly $300,000 in rewards.

Other salient statistics: Overall, Honolulu CrimeStoppers tips have led to about 2,400 arrests, 6,000 cases cleared, $4.5 million in property recovered, nearly $2 million in drugs seized, and more than $6 million in cash recovered.

CrimeStoppers, by the way, is a nonprofit that receives no government funding, other than the city paying the salaries of HPD officers assigned to CrimeStoppers. Like most nonprofits, monetary donations and volunteers are always needed. For more information, go to www.crimestoppers-honolulu.org.

Serious as this endeavor is, it has not been without a few amusing moments.

Such as that first year, 1995, when a regular MidWeek reader went out to her mailbox to get the latest issue and was shocked to see herself on the cover among the Most Wanted. She immediately called me and demanded, “Who gave you permission to use my picture?!”

“Uh, HPD,” I replied. “By the way, ma’am, where are you calling from?”

She turned herself in a couple of days later. Then there was the letter that arrived a couple of years ago from OCCC - marked with a red stamp indicating that prison personnel had reviewed the letter before it was mailed. The incarcerated writer asked if it was possible to obtain a copy of a past Most Wanted cover. He wanted it as a keepsake, he said, because not only had he appeared on that cover, but so had his girlfriend, and it would mean a lot for them to have their moment of fame framed.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. We at MidWeek value our relationship with CrimeStoppers and HPD, and with your help look forward to assisting them in their very important work.

Not to mention creating new mementos for other criminals.

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