When Detective Chris Duque retired in 2007 after more than 30 years with the Honolulu PD, he didn’t actually retire in any true sense of the word. It was about then that he and members of his extended Ohana (Hawaiian for ‘family’) started the Internet Safety Awards program in Hawaii’s schools.

Duque said that in his last two years with HPD he worked 14 cases involving children being molested after meeting someone online. He said, “the scary thing is that in 11 of those cases, the child made the initial contact with full knowledge that they were contacting an adult. These are the kids with serious issues. These are the children who don’t have the affection, love and attention from parents, so they go online looking for adult companionship that they’re lacking.”

This is what community policing is about. Even though I’m a cop, doesn’t mean my network is only cops. Arnold is my only law enforcement ohana member. Everyone else shows up because I ask them to.
~Chris Duque

Keys to success: #1 Listen to the kids

There are two keys to the success of the program, says Duque. First, he talked directly to the kids to find out what they were concerned about regarding going online. Second, it’s all about the community in policing. To the first point, Duque asked the kids what their concerns are. They answered:

  1. Cyberbullying – both what can they do to protect themselves from cyber bullies but also what kind of behavior can get them into trouble themselves.
  2. Privacy/plagiarism/copyright – to the kids, who don’t worry (enough) about their own privacy, this meant what happens if I download music? How much trouble can I get myself into?
  3. Online predators – kids wanted to know how to tell if they’re hooking up with someone who’s pretending to be someone they’re not, online.

The true genius in Duque’s work (and that of his Ohana) is not only did he ask the kids what they want to know, but he works with them to get them to be the influencers in the schools. He gets them to teach their friends how to stay safe online. To push things a little bit further, with the suggestion of, and partnership with his ohana member FBI SA Arnold Laanui, he created the “Internet Safety Awards”. To vye for the award, the kids create public safety announcements (PSA’s) addressing one of the three topics, all on their own. This year, 18 schools presented 61 entries in 3 categories. The three categories match the three issues described above. The winners, announced Friday, April 16th at the Internet Safety Awards in Honolulu, are: (clicking each will present the video)

Duque with 3 Internet Safety Experts at Lunalilo Elementary School-winners of "People's Choice Award"

And a very special People’s Choice Award was given to students at Lunalilo Elementary School for their video “If Only”.

The kids’ schools receive monetary awards for first, second and third place and each first place winner receives a certificate for outstanding community service from the state legislature. All the winners receive huge recognition for their efforts. Additionally, the winning videos are being professionally branded and will be available for free for anyone to use to spread the message. Information on how to obtain them will be available here on ConnectedCOPS when they’re ready. Duque and the ohana want to spread the good work of the young islanders far and wide to hopefully influence other kids worldwide to make good decisions.

The second key to success: The Ohana

David "Kawika" Talisman, HPD Det (retired) Chris Duque and FBI SA Arnold Laanui at the Internet Safety Awards in Honolulu, April 16th, 2010

Duque insists the credit is not his alone. He speaks of the Ohana, his “family”. He mentioned so many names I couldn’t get them all down. They include Hilary Apana-McKee, the top technologist in the Hawaiian Dept of Education, Kiman Wong of Time Warner Cable, Brenda Salgado of Hawaii News Now and a host of others. But he speaks most highly of his two close friends, FBI Special Agent Arnold Laanui and David Kawika Talisman, a private investigator and CEO of True Digital, as the pillars of the enterprise.

Duque has been using the Internet and social media to link cops and community for years. “This is what community policing is about. Even though I’m a cop, doesn’t mean my network is only cops. Arnold is my only law enforcement ohana member. Everyone else shows up because I ask them to.” Duque reminds us all, that it’s all about community and the kids.

Mahalos Detective Duque. You’re a true hero, just exactly what we like to think of when we hear the phrase “an officer and a gentleman”. I’ve more then a couple decades of media experience (but I’m not as old as YOU ARE), and I can tell you, these videos are of very high quality with regard to both production values as well as content. Congratulations to you and the ohana, the kids and everyone involved.

Aloha, and the winner is…

…all of us. We’re all in this together.