More than 2,200 returning residents and travelers flew into Hawai‘i airports on Wednesday and unless they have an exemption, all of them are required to abide by the State’s current 14-day quarantine rules. It’s a monumental effort to keep track of everyone who should be in quarantine and it involves a hui of law enforcement agencies, representatives of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry, state transportation workers, and the community generally.
So far,182 people have been arrested by state or county law enforcement officers for violating emergency quarantine rules. This is the number for O‘ahu (arrests made by the Dept. of the Attorney General Special Investigators), Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island. The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) reports its officers do respond to quarantine violations and officers have discretion to warn, cite, or arrest based on available facts and circumstances. HPD groups all violations of current emergency rules together and does not provide specific statistics for quarantine violations.
Thursday afternoon, Governor Ige, Attorney General Clare E. Connors and Paul Jones, Deputy Chief AG Investigative Division, answered questions from members of the community about quarantine enforcement during a Community Connections Facebook live.
The team calling quarantined visitors is made up of workers from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HTA’s marketing contractor for the U.S. market), Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and the Maui Police Department. There are approximately 80 members on this calling team, and they work to call quarantined visitors from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day, including weekends and holidays. They have contacted well over 27,000 travelers and have made more than 113,000 phone calls, texts and emails since the quarantine order went into effect at the end of March. The team calls quarantined visitors as many as three times during their two-week-long quarantines. Some 7,145 are still actively being tracked. Since the end of March, the team has escalated 667 travel parties for suspected or reported violations. In addition, they supply supporting documentation to law enforcement on all islands for their investigations into quarantine violations. This call team assisted in the case against the cult members arrested on Hawai‘i Island last month.
Staff volunteers from the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation contact returning residents, utilizing many of the same procedures as the team tracking quarantined visitors.
AG’s investigators also conduct random “compliance” checks on people who are in quarantine. Prior to the conclusion of an individual’s quarantine, AG Special Agents go into the field to see if people are complying. Those, who aren’t, are investigated further to ensure they’re complying. If not, they can be arrested or cited.
Jones said, “The response from those that have been checked in the field, have been positive, and they are appreciative that someone is actually checking. We do want to remind people that our agents will always show their credentials.”
The AG’s Investigative Division is responsible for a vast array of criminal, administrative, civil, and certain regulatory matters, including investigations of government corruption, white-collar crimes, career criminals, public safety, homeland security, sex offender, computer crimes, etc.
Connors commented, “Our investigations division team focuses on any crimes that significantly affect the safety and well-being of our community. In addition, they provide public safety services during emergency situations. We take seriously our responsibility to keep people safe during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
County-by-county breakdown of quarantine violation arrests (numbers reported between July 13-July 16, 2020):
- Hawai‘i County – 99
- Maui County – 16
- Kaua‘i County – 46
- C&C of Honolulu – 21 (arrests made by Dept. of the Attorney General Special Investigators)