My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

News from Hawaii: Census taker absolved of trespassing charge

The Star Advertiser reports the following:

The Hawaii County prosecutor’s office agreed yesterday to dismiss a trespassing charge against a census worker who had been arrested after a Puna resident refused to participate in the survey.

The county also said it will cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau to prevent similar situations in the future.

“We came to the conclusion that this was the better way to resolve this,” said Kevin Hashizaki, deputy county prosecutor.

Big Island police arrested census taker Russell J. Haas, 57, on March 10 at a home in Puna after the resident, an off-duty police officer, declined to answer questions and asked him to leave the property.

The resident called police, who arrested him for trespassing. “I tried to explain it to them. They didn’t want to hear it. They told me to get the hell out of there,” Haas said yesterday.

Haas had been charged with second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $1,000 fine.

“I hope this never happens to any other census worker, any place, any time,” Haas said.

A federal judge in Honolulu dismissed the case, which had been transferred from state court, yesterday.

Hashizaki said continuing to prosecute the case would have required bringing four to five witnesses to Oahu yesterday for a hearing to oppose dismissal of the charge. And if the county was successful, those witnesses would be brought back to Oahu for trial.

“We’re very happy that this was resolved the way it was,” said Jamey Christy, Los Angeles regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We learned a lot.” Christy said he believes local authorities also learned a lot.

Christy said guidance and procedures for census workers are scripted and that they are the same for census workers across the country. He said there might be room for adjustment for each location.

He also said a way to prevent such incidents is for census officials to have discussions with local officials in advance.

That would include meetings with county police chiefs, said Larry L. Butrick, assistant U.S. attorney.

Haas said he had been working the Puna area for at least a month when police arrested him. He continued collecting census data after his arrest.

Note: Haas continued collecting census data after his arrest. Isn’t this a violation of the Bureau’s own policies?



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6 Responses to “News from Hawaii: Census taker absolved of trespassing charge”

  1. movin'_on Says:

    “Hashizaki said continuing to prosecute the case would have required bringing four to five witnesses to Oahu yesterday for a hearing to oppose dismissal of the charge. And if the county was successful, those witnesses would be brought back to Oahu for trial.”

    Ok, now did they drop the charges because what Haas was doing was LEGAL and REQUIRED BY LAW or because it would have been too much of a hassle for them to continue to prosecute? If I were a Census worker in Hawaii I would want an answer to this BEFORE I went out, or sent anyone else out.

    I would also want to know this if I were serving papers on someone in Hawaii. Call the police and charge the person serving papers with trespassing…

    “He also said a way to prevent such incidents is for census officials to have discussions with local officials in advance.” (Jamey Christy, Los Angeles regional director)

    “That would include meetings with county police chiefs, said Larry L. Butrick, assistant U.S. attorney.”

    And if they don’t get their courtesy call, they will start arresting census workers? What gives, the local police know then census is being taken, like everbody else.

    I’m really shaking my head on this one.

  2. fastfoodcensus.com Says:

    Federal law trumps state and local law and census workers are there performing their Federal duties, proscribed by the constitution. It is ridiculous that local police interfered, but I guess many of the cops in the field weren’t around the last census. It was the right call for the census bureau to back him up and not remove him for performing his duties.

  3. Former CL Says:

    This reminds me as to why I was so happy when AC was over and why I was forced to take antidepressant during the operation and for months afterwards. The listers in my crew were constantly harassed, stalked, and monitored by the county mounties in one of the several counties in Texas I was over. I asked the fos & elco over and over shouldnt we be notifying the local police we would be there? No was the repeated answer until the sheriff of the one county we were having constant problems decided to take it upon himself and call the AMFO and pretty much explain the position that the Census needed to leave and ” never return “… and the constitution be “d@mned”. Legal at Census didnt do a thing to help other than quote the manual on how to deal with reluctant respondants…. All through every operation ( except GQ ) that followed this county was a nightmare and the reason for so many enumerators, CL`s, and FOS`s either quitting or getting termed for ” failure to complete work on time “. Now comes the fun part as private citizen I`ll get to listen to all the “blaming the Census for failure to do an accurate count in the county” on the nightly news when the numbers come out and the same mindless, government hating, anti social, inbred, backwoods, redneck, Texas idiots cry about not getting their share. If anything the Census should on the master map of counties draw a skull and crossbones over that particular county so they will be well prepared for it in 2020.

  4. Brooklyn Enum Says:

    Census, jury duty and taxes: the only duties the federal government requires of you. The rest of the time you can abide by state and local laws and not even know you live in the United States.

  5. Semper Enu Says:

    Brooklyn Enum: Not so – check out the recent Economist article “Rough Justice in America: Too many laws, too many prisoners,” which says “There are over 4,000 federal crimes, and many times that number of regulations that carry criminal penalties. When analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offences on the books, they were forced to give up, exhausted.”

    It’s a great article, check it out.

  6. anonymous Says:

    So glad this was resolved. Every locale has a unique history.

    Every enumerator and respondent are unique individuals. If a respondent tells me “no”, I thank them for their time, make detailed notes, and wish them “good day”. It is their right. And, I may see them at Walmart.