THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

520

TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2017

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

Relating to police commissions.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is a public health epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality, or educational background. Intimate partner violence accounts for fifteen per cent of all violent crime and is most common among women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. However, these domestic violence statistics may be underestimated, as many victims do not report intimate partner violence to police, family, or friends.

The legislature further finds that the Honolulu police department was heavily criticized by lawmakers and the public in the wake of a September 2014 high-profile incident involving an off-duty Honolulu police department sergeant. The sergeant's actions sparked concern about the way police handle domestic violence cases and triggered an informational briefing at the state capitol.

The legislature additionally finds that residents in the State should be able to know that the county police departments are being held accountable for the actions of county police officers. Currently, the county police commissions are charged with overseeing conduct of the county police departments or officers. The legislature notes that the county police commissions are a matter of statewide concern, as it was originally a state law that established the commissions. Furthermore, outside oversight and police department transparency are vital to ensuring ongoing community trust in the county police departments, particularly after high-profile incidents such as the one in September 2014. Amending the composition of the county police commissions to include commissioners from a variety of backgrounds will therefore improve transparency, accountability, and efficiency in dealing with police misconduct in the State.

The legislature also finds that the Hawaii state commission on the status of women has worked toward equality for Hawaii's women and girls for over fifty years and serves as an informational resource on a broad range of policies and issues. Enabling the executive director or a commissioner of the Hawaii state commission on the status of women to be a member of the county police commissions will ensure that the police commissions have access to the wealth of information, data, and experience that the Hawaii state commission on the status of women can provide.

The legislature notes that the State is strongly committed to the protection of civil rights, and accordingly, created the Hawaii civil rights commission to enforce state laws prohibiting various forms of discrimination. The Hawaii civil rights commission is made up of commissioners and staff with knowledge and experience in civil rights matters and a strong commitment to preserving the civil rights of all individuals in Hawaii. Enabling the executive director or a commissioner of the Hawaii state civil rights commission to be a member of the county police commissions will enhance the effectiveness of the county police commissions and ensure greater preservation of individuals' civil rights in Hawaii.

Finally, the legislature finds that the county police commissions would be better able to fulfill their missions and serve the residents of the State if a member of each county police commission has previous law enforcement experience.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to amend the composition of the county police commissions to require that three commissioners on each police commission have specific backgrounds, including advocating for equality for women, preserving civil rights, and law enforcement experience, for the benefit of the general public.

SECTION 2. Section 52D-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]52D-1[]] Police commission. (a) A police commission is created for each of the counties. The [composition,] appointment, terms of office, staff, powers, duties, and functions of each police commission shall be prescribed by the charter of each county.

(b) The composition of each police commission shall be prescribed by the charter of each county; provided that three commissioners on each county police commission shall be:

(1) The executive director of the state commission on the status of women, or a designated commissioner of the state commission on the status of women;

(2) The executive director of the Hawaii civil rights commission, or a designated commissioner of the Hawaii civil rights commission; and

(3) An individual with prior experience in the field of law enforcement; provided that this individual shall not concurrently serve on a police commission and in a law enforcement position."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2017, and shall commence applying to the county police commissions upon each police commission's next vacancy; provided that:

(1) The first vacancy in each police commission shall be filled with the individual specified in section 52D‑1(b)(1), Hawaii Revised Statutes, as amended by this Act;

(2) The second vacancy in each police commission shall be filled with the individual specified in section 52D‑1(b)(2), Hawaii Revised Statutes, as amended by this Act; and

(3) The third vacancy in each police commission shall be filled with the individual specified in section 52D‑1(b)(3), Hawaii Revised Statutes, as amended by this Act.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 



 

Report Title:

County Police Commissions; Police Commissioners; Composition; Requirements

 

Description:

Amends the composition of the county police commissions to require that three commissioners on each police commission have backgrounds, including equality for women, civil rights, and law enforcement, for the benefit of the public.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.