In 2009, 51,066 crimes were reported in Hawaii – and violent crimes are on the rise, according to the “Crime in Hawaii 2009” Annual Report.
Are we becoming a society of bystanders? When a crime occurs, when violence erupts, we often stand by and watch it happen, feeling angry and powerless. The point is, we’re afraid to get involved. Even the police recommend that we give in to criminals, give them what they want, and remain passive.
Yes, it’s dangerous to get involved, but we don’t have to stand by and let bad things happen. There are still heroes among us.
On January 8, 2011, when a gunman opened fire in Tucson, Arizona, ordinary people took action. While some rushed to aid the wounded, a retired Army colonel tackled the gunman, another man hit him on the back of the head, and a 61-year old woman wrestled a new magazine away from him. Others held the gunman down until the police came.
I don’t want anyone to get hurt, especially if they are trying to do the right thing. But we maybe we need to stop being victims and start encouraging courage. Here are a few ideas:
* Promote a “Hawaii Posse” to report criminals and stolen property. Honolulu has “CrimeStoppers” and a Hotline, but I like the more informal and responsive “KSSK Posse” started by The Perry and Price Show, helping people with traffic updates, stolen cars, and lost pets. Since 1994, Central Pacific Bank has donated money to local charities whenever the Posse helps to resolve a criminal incident, through the CATCH (Citizens Against Troublemakers and Criminals in Hawaii) Award Fund. Let’s imitate this successful program – or expand it!
* Offer small “Good Samaritan” rewards. More than just a reward for a tip or phone call, let’s offer an incentive for people to get involved by helping those who are wounded or restraining criminals when it can be done safely. We can encourage people to whip out their cell phones to call 911, or immediately start writing down everything they see, to help them remember details. These small rewards can be paid for by convicted criminals as part of a fine or restitution.
* Offer a $1,000 reward to anyone who restrains a criminal during a home invasion or assault; a $5,000 reward if the criminal is a paroled felon. I don’t want to encourage trigger-happy homeowners or vigilantes. But the police can’t be everywhere, and it’s up to us to protect ourselves and our families. In his book “Ted, White, and Blue,” rocker, activist, and author Ted Nugent goes even farther, suggesting a $100,000 reward to anyone who shoots and kills a paroled felon during an assault or home invasion (page 35). I think that crosses a line. But we should be willing and able to defend our lives, our homes, and our property.
If I were to witness a crime, I hope that I have the courage to step up. Or at the very least, pay as much attention as I can so in order to be a helpful, confident witness. What do you think?