On Monday, the Star Advertiser ran an article on the race for Prosecuting Attorney. In the news report, the differences between Keith Kaneshiro and his opponent were clearly shown.
In an interview, Kaneshiro said the role of prosecutor is more than heading an office prosecuting cases, and also includes advocating for programs and working with other law enforcement agencies, state and city lawmakers and the community.
He cited obtaining $2.3 million from the city for a Family Justice Center that would provide transitional housing for domestic violence victims, and working on nuisance-abatement cases to shut down several drug houses.
Kaneshiro said he is also trying to preserve a drug court program that is “eroding” because participants in the HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity for Probation with Enforcement) recidivism prevention program who fail on probation are shifted to drug court, which means less room for drug offenders.
“You’ve got to be a voice out there to ensure that laws won’t be passed to jeopardize public safety,” he said.
In contrasts to Keith’s focus on public safety, his opponent is does not mention any new programs or initiatives. He does not mention how he will tackle the illegal drug trade in our community, or how he will help victims of domestic violence. Instead, the article reports that according to Keith’s opponent, “the key issue in the race is Kaneshiro’s management style and the resulting “mass exodus” of about 50 of 100 deputies since Kaneshiro became prosecutor in September 2010″.
This argument of a “mass exodus” has been repeated extensively by Keith’s opponent, and the Star Advertiser article reported on Keith’s response.
Kaneshiro said Takata unfairly lumps together all those who left the office as an exodus. The 11 weren’t fired, Kaneshiro said; their terms ended when he took office, and he could not fire anyone who didn’t have a job.
Several others retired, seven more left Oahu for reasons unrelated to any poor morale, and 20 took other jobs to pursue a different career, he said.
Kaneshiro acknowledged that some left because they weren’t happy.
He said he found that some deputies were showing up for work late and going home early. He said he told them they had to come to work at 7:45 and needed to be supervised.
“Obviously, some people didn’t like that,” he said.
Kaneshiro said they found that several deputies had neglected cases, which then became so old they could not be charged because of the statute of limitations.
“It’s not about who left, but about people who are at the office, who are very hardworking and skilled,” Kaneshiro said.
The vacancies caused by the departing deputies have been filled, he said. The office now has about 100 deputies.