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All In For A Safer Kauai

Bad guys don’t stand a chance, thanks to the efforts of people like Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i board president Ron Wiley, Kaua‘i Police Department acting Chief Michael Contrades, KPD Assistant Chief of Police Bryson Ponce and Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i coordinator Jessica Fletcher.

IT’S A COMMUNITY EFFORT FOR CRIME STOPPERS KAUA‘I, WHICH RELIES ON PUBLIC TIPSTERS

Bad guys don’t stand a chance, thanks to the efforts of people like Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i board president Ron Wiley, Kaua‘i Police Department acting Chief Michael Contrades, KPD Assistant Chief of Police Bryson Ponce and Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i coordinator Jessica Fletcher.

In the summer of 1975, New Mexico law enforcement officers were stumped with the unsolved homicide of a young college student. Out of frustration and desperation, one of the detectives assigned to the case reached out to local news sources for help. Community, media and law enforcement members came together, and within 72 hours, an anonymous source provided the police with a lead in the case.

Thus, Crime Stoppers USA was born. Locally, for the past 25 years, Crime Stoppers has been an integral resource for Kaua‘i’s law enforcement community. The longevity of the program is all thanks to a partnership between Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, Visitor Aloha Society of Kaua‘i and Kaua‘i Police Department.

“We are very grateful for this partnership as the program has helped to provide leads to many investigations,” says KPD acting Chief Michael Contrades.

Yet, over the years, there have been gaps when the local program was docile, operating without the attention and oversight. Nearly two years ago, though, a group came together to re-form the dormant effort.

The newly minted Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i Inc. became official in June 2017.

The nonprofit is governed by a volunteer board of directors with a Crime Stoppers coordinator hired by KPD to oversee operations.

Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i coordinator Jessica Fletcher, Kaua‘i Police Department Assistant Chief of Police Bryson Ponce, Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i board president Ron Wiley and KPD acting Chief Michael Contrades are a few of the people who make the local Crime Stoppers affiliate successful.

Few outside of local law enforcement recognize the importance of reviving this program more than board president (and popular radio host) Ron Wiley.

“For almost 30 years, I have been taking calls from listeners of KONG radio,” he says. “Over those years, I have often received reports of what looked to be a crime. I always told the person to call the police. Many said they did not want to be identified. I could tell from other reactions that the caller would not call.”

By giving the public a method of reporting crime that’s truly anonymous, Wiley believes that more people will be encouraged to call police with tips.

“I believe we can get more information to the police earlier, and possibly information the police would not be able get otherwise,” he adds.

Crime Stoppers partners with local law enforcement, the media and concerned citizens to reduce crime and improve the quality of life on Kaua‘i. Twenty-five years ago, when Crime Stoppers first began on Kaua‘i, the community landscape was very different from what law enforcement officers face today.

“In the past, many Kaua‘i residents would leave their homes or vehicles unlocked because, in general, people respected and enjoyed the fact that Kaua‘i is a safe place to live, work and play,” says Assistant Chief of Police Bryson Ponce.

However, the influx of crystal methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, prescription opioids and marijuana have posed new challenges.

“The steady importation to Kaua‘i from the mainland, Mexico and Asia … led to an epidemic of dependency and addiction that drove the people now hooked on illicit drugs to steal from others to support their addiction,” Ponce adds.

According to KPD, the most common crimes that occur on-island are property-related issues such as burglaries, thefts, vehicle break-ins, damage to property and stolen vehicles. Kaua‘i also has a high rate of domestic violence, as well as drug-related and financial crimes.

“Crime Stoppers has been successful and of service to KPD by allowing members of the public to feel safe and secure, knowing they can report a crime anonymously and that Kaua‘i Police Department can follow up,” Ponce says. “There have been many arrests that KPD has made from information, tips and clues from the public through calls made to KPD dispatch or Crime Stoppers. We are very thankful and encourage the public to report a crime or suspicious activity.”

When people phone into the Crime Stoppers hotline, the caller’s identity will never be made known to law enforcement or the suspect. Callers receive a tip number

and use that number to call back to see if their tip led to an arrest or capture of a wanted fugitive.

Monetary rewards given out to successful tipsters are donated by members of the public, businesses or other private entities.

“We are still in our infant stage at Crime Stoppers, so our primary and immediate need is financial support,” adds Wiley.

Funding would address the program’s two main goals: set up an independent and secure 24-hour call system, and bolster the amount of reward money.

“I feel it is vital that all of us, even those that wish to remain anonymous can join in our effort to keep our people and our property safe,” Wiley continues. “We have a responsibility on Kaua‘i to face the fact that crime happens and affects all of us, not just the direct victim. Mahalo to KPD for acknowledging and supporting the synergy of all Kaua‘i residents and businesses working with our police to stop what crime we can.”

A tax deductible donation may be sent to Crime Stoppers Inc., 3990 Ka‘ana St., Suite 200, Līhu‘e, HI 96766.

For more information, contact Wiley at ronwiley@kongradio.com.

The Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i Inc. hotline is 246-8300.

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