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August 11, 2010 – Honolulu, Hawaii
Video courtesy KITV | Voice of Tim Bryan
An incident involving a U.S. census taker and a Hawaii County Police officer in Puna that made headlines around the nation was resolved this week.
The state agreed to dismiss the case against 57- year-old Russell Haas, who was arrested for trespassing while going door to door as a federal census worker in March.
KITV news caught up with Haas, a former Police officer from New Jersey, outside the federal courthouse.
The U.S. Census launched their Hawaii Counts 2010 effort with great fanfare in March, and said they planned to conduct a thorough count of the Big Island’s population… an island known for its “hard to count” areas. Adding to the challenge, a census employee admitted in a March interview, are some inhabitants who don’t necessarily want to participate.
Census workers were asked to be persistent in conducting their count, and it may have been that persistence that got Haas in trouble when he entered the fenced property of Kenneth Ishii, a Hawaii County Police officer, within the Hawaiian Acres subdivision.
The U.S. Attorney decided to represent Haas in court, and the case was removed from the State Court in Hilo, to the Federal Court in Honolulu.
The intervention was apparently enough to make the county prosecutors stand down.
Census representatives said the case has taught the bureau an important lesson in approaching gated property.
As for Haas, KITV reports he may be considering a civil lawsuit. Other reports say he is considering leaving the island for fear of retaliation.