Chinatown welcomes extra police presence

By Leland Kim - bio | email

CHINATOWN (KHNL) - Folks in Chinatown breathe a sigh of relief after the Honolulu Police Department promises to increase police presence. This is in response to two recent acts of violence involving local and mainland gang members.

People we talked to say they welcome the extra police presence. They say they've never seen Chinatown like this, and are still in shock over what happened the past few weeks.

Folks in Chinatown go about their business as they usually do. But these days, they're much more guarded after gang violence infiltrated their neighborhood.

"It's really scary since I found out what happened," said a Chinatown business owner who did not want her identity revealed. "And after a week, another incident happened."

On Friday, a man was stabbed on this block of River Street, a victim of gang retaliation, according to police.

"And it's really scary because it's close by my store," said the anonymous business owner.

"How has it affected your business?" asked KHNL.

"My customers are really scared of coming around now especially in the evening," she said.

And just a block away, a man was killed right at this location. The two incidents have caused police to increase presence in Chinatown.

And that presence is around the clock because, police sources say, drug deals involving crack cocaine happen all hours of the day.

"That would really help. That would really, really help," said the anonymous business owner. "Feel good that they're around to check on us."

Police say local gang members are in a turf war with a San Francisco-based gang that has members on Oahu.

"In the twenty years you've been here, have you seen anything like this?" asked KHNL.

"This is the only time, the two incidents," said the anonymous business owner. "Before there were only fighting and yelling, but no killing."

Folks in Chinatown hope the police are successful in curbing gang violence, so they can have their neighborhood back.

"But hopefully that will be the end of it, and it will be peaceful in downtown," said the anonymous business owner.

The police department would not give an exact number of how many more officers will be patrolling Chinatown, but that figure is said to be "substantial." And HPD's strategy includes both uniformed and undercover officers.