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Officer looks to expand services for domestic violence victims in South Kohala

Updated: 
November 8, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — For more than a year, a Hawaii community police officer has made ongoing efforts to expand services to domestic violence victims in the South Kohala area.

On Monday, it was announced that temporary restraining orders (TROs) could now be dropped off at the South Kohala District Courthouse in Waimea. Petitioners do not have to go to Kona to file, according to a press release from the Domestic Violence Awareness Committee in Waimea.

“The court should have been accepting them all along but they were sending them to Kona,” said May Lee, Hawaii Police Department community policing officer.

Jan Kagehiro, spokeswoman for the Hawaii State Judiciary, said the forms for both domestic and nondomestic TROs have been available at the court’s service window for years. The forms have also been available online at the Hawaii State Judiciary website at http://www.courts.state.hi.us/self-help/protective_orders/protective_orders.

“What is fairly recent, however, is the availability of the domestic TRO forms in the self-help area,” Kagehiro said.

The reason the domestic TRO forms weren’t available in that area previously, Kagehiro said, was because they wanted to have the opportunity for one of the service clerks to talk to the individuals, give them the right form and refer them to the nearest Child and Family Services office to get assistance with completing the form correctly.

“But we have never required this,” she said. “If someone filled out the form and wanted to file it immediately, we would accept it.”

However, according to Lee, this wasn’t happening.

Lee said when an individual would go to the courthouse in Waimea to request a restraining order; they were given a phone number and told to go to the Child and Family Services office in Kona to file it.

“Victims would say they don’t have a car and no one could watch their kids so they give up and go back,” Lee said.

Lee said she never found out the reason why the court was sending people to Kona, she just wanted to make it possible for people to file restraining orders in Waimea. She later learned the court accepted the TRO documents, however, the paperwork wasn’t provided onsite.

“I started putting packets together and making them available at the police station,” Lee said.

The forms are available 24/7 at the South Kohala police station located at 67-5185 Kamamalu St. in Waimea.

Lee has worked for more than a year to get services for victims of domestic violence made available to South Kohala residents. Last year, she put together the Domestic Violence Awareness Committee.

A victim support group meets the first Monday of every month.

Also last year, Waimea residents held its first vigil for domestic violence victims.

“We’re trying to get services in Waimea,” Lee said. “There are services in Hilo and Kona, but people just can’t get there for the help. The only shelters are in Hilo and Kona — nothing in Waimea.”

Eventually, Lee said, the services that are brought to Waimea will benefit North Kohala residents.

In a year, Lee said, officers respond to about 500 domestic related calls in the South Kohala District.

Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner said so far this year, the Hawaii Police Department has received 1,317 TROs.

For more information about the committee or the support group, call Officer May Lee at 887-3080.

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