Legislature Takes Steps Toward Addressing Domestic Violence


Reflections …Sen. Will Espero

Domestic violence is a terrible scourge on many families locally, nationally and globally.

It is a crime that can impact all members of a family and, sadly, often goes unreported in many homes.

Spouses, partners and children are afraid, embarrassed, intimidated and threatened to keep quiet and not speak to authorities about private personal matters.

Sometimes friends and neighbors turn a blind eye to domestic violence signs.

We know domestic violence can lead to serious injury and death.

At times, murder-suicides are the outcome of years of abuse, intimidation and violence in families.

Victims of domestic violence have been known to protect abusers because of their fear of injury and retaliation.

Others are in denial it is even happening.

Some victims are afraid to leave a violent relationship, and others don’t know where to go or who to call in their time of need.

For starters, 911 is always a number to turn to whenever a dangerous situation arises.

The Domestic Violence Action Center is another place to call for information (531-3771). The web-site is stoptheviolence.org.

The recent NFL Ray Rice incident and shocking video enraged viewers around the world who saw the violent left hook thrown by the Baltimore Ravens’ running back against his then-fiancée in a casino elevator. She has since married him.

The punishment against Rice by the NFL has been criticized by many, and the league has had a public relations disaster in regards to its handling of domestic violence and other serious offenses involving NFL players.

Preferential treatment of Rice has been alleged, and it does appear he received a sweetheart deal, courtesy of the area prosecutor.

I hope this can be corrected.

Here in Hawaii, a video of a police officer attacking his girlfriend in a Waipahu restaurant has created a firestorm of criticism from the public against Honolulu Police Department.

First of all, I would like to say that the majority of police officers are respected, law-abiding professionals who are valued public servants.

However, no charges were brought against the officer in question, even though the video does appear to show a clear assault and attack against a woman.

No arrest and no report were made of the incident, and now HPD also has been thrown into a public relations crisis dealing with the perceived double standard when dealing with one of its own as the potential criminal.

With both of these videos becoming public close to the same time, the issue of domestic violence has been thrust upon us like never before.

As the chairman of the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs committee, I have been in touch with HPD and fellow lawmakers regarding the Officer Cachola video.

I can assure you that we are taking these concerns very seriously.

We had a hearing Sept. 30, and positive, productive discussion took place with HPD and domestic violence agencies and stakeholders.

We expect improvements within HPD, and legislation is being considered, as well.

State Sen. Will Espero represents District 19, which includes Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point and a portion of Ewa Villages.

Call him at 586-6360 or email senespero@capitol.hawaii.gov.