Council gets update on runaway/missing children statistics

  • Lt. Sandor Finkey of the Hawaii Police Department provided updated statistics of runaway/missing children to the county council during Tuesday afternoon’s Public Safety Committee meeting. (Courtesy photo/West Hawaii Today)

The newest numbers regarding runaways and missing children on the Big Island are in.

The Hawaii County Council was updated on the current situation of runaways and missing children by the Hawaii Police Department during the council’s Committee on Public Safety meeting Tuesday afternoon.

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Lt. Sandor Finkey said there are currently 16 active cases of runaways on the Big Island and one child — 6-year-old Benny Rapoza of Hilo — still reported as missing. Of the 16 active runaway cases, all but one are repeat runaways.

“The majority of the open cases we have right now are repeat runaways,” said Finkey. “That doesn’t make it any less important in terms of finding them.”

Fifteen of those runaways on the Big Island are between 15 and 17 years old, and the youngest is just 13 years old, he said.

At the conclusion of his comments, Finkey brought up the new in-service training recently implemented by HPD to educate officers of the right questions to ask when making contact with runaways to help further identify trafficking victims.

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“That’s something we touched on: how do we identify youth having these issues,” said Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder in response to learning about the new training. “Without the right questions, it’s hard to recognize.”

The final of two points on the committee meeting agenda was a discussion with Hawaii Rainbow Rangers regarding its new animal control services contract and the transition from Hawaii Island Humane Society. The discussion was postponed to Oct. 6 due to recent changes in personnel within Hawaii Rainbow Rangers.

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