Criminal complaints need details
I live in a condominium and suspect that one of my neighbors is using and selling drugs. They are awake all night long, and people constantly come and go at all hours of the night. I have complained to our building management, but nothing has changed. I just see this as a disaster waiting to happen. Who do I report suspicious drug activity to?
Answer: You can file a complaint by calling the Honolulu Police Department's Narcotics/Vice Division at 529-3101 or by making an online report at www.honolulupd.org/nv/report.htm.
Of course, if you are confronted by a drug dealer or user, you should call 911 immediately.
According to HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu, the Narcotics/Vice Division received 443 complaints just between January and July of this year.
In making a complaint, HPD says you should be prepared to give as much information as possible to help investigators, including:
» An exact address if possible or a description of the location.
» Names of the suspects, as well as detailed descriptions, including height, weight, hair color, eye color, complexion, type of clothing usually worn and ethnic background.
» Description and license numbers of any vehicles used by the suspects.
» The type of drug you believe is being sold or used.
» The type of activity that is happening to make you suspicious.
» The dates and times the activity is occurring.
HPD says complaints can be made anonymously, but it helps if you provide a name and contact number. All information is kept confidential.
Q: Recently, two plainclothes men knocked on my door, claiming to be police officers. They asked about something I knew nothing about. They asked for my name, birth date and Social Security number. I gave the information because they said they were police officers. Now I regret doing so, because of ID theft concerns. In the future, if I am asked again, what information am I required by law to give? And does my personal information become open to the public on some police report?
A: First, anyone unsure if someone is with the Honolulu Police Department should ask to see a police badge and ID card, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.
ID cards have photos and the officer's badge number.
If you are still unsure, Yu advises calling 911 to ask for confirmation or for a uniformed officer to respond.
There's no law that says you're required to answer certain questions or any questions, for that matter, added HPD Maj. Frank Fujii.
But if you're being asked as part of an investigation, "We'd like to think people would think it is part of their civic duty to cooperate," he said.
Meanwhile, once a case is closed, police reports "may be releasable," Yu said, but she emphasized that "confidential information" such as Social Security numbers and a witness's name and address are blacked out before being released.
Also, not everything necessarily goes into a police report. It depends on whether the information is substantive and/or relevant to a police investigation, Fujii said.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
. See also: Useful phone numbers