UH Campus Security trying to address homeless problem - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH Campus Security trying to address homeless problem

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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The University of Hawaii at Manoa isn't immune to crime and the campus security has implemented a new policy to crackdown on homeless people caught on campus.

Acting Campus Security Chief Alberta Pukahi says she sent out a directive Monday to question everyone found in buildings after hours, including weekends and holidays. But at least one campus security officer tells us the order was to cite homeless people for trespassing no questions asked.

"We are working with our campus partners and will be requesting assistance from external resources to address homeless dwellers on property. It has been brought to our attention by the homeless themselves that they feel safe here and continue to return to sleep in our buildings, hallways and lawn, regardless of the number of times they are trespassed," said Alberta Pukahi, Campus Security Acting Chief, in a written statement. "For 2013, 34 trespass warnings were issued, with five of them resulting in arrest. Of those 34 trespass warnings, 22 reports were called in by staff, faculty or students."

The directive is getting mixed reactions from students.

"I personally think it is a good idea. I am actually a resident assistant at one of the dorms so being able to have a safe campus and safe housing is really important," said Megan Owens, UH Manoa Kinesiology Student. "This is just supposed to be an educational environment and having to worry about who maybe around the corner and you're not sure if you're by yourself especially if you're a girl it's kind of scary."

"I think it's a good idea by campus security because the safer a campus is the more students will feel comfortable coming to school being able to come to the library at night even if it's just 8:00 at night and not having to fear someone is there that they don't know," continued Owens.

"If they're not doing anything to us just leave them alone. If they have a history of harassing students then sure you can cite them but if they're not bothering anyone just leave them alone," said Luis Soltren, UH Manoa Animation Student.

"I really don't think it's fair. I mean yeah they kind of don't have any business here but they're not bothering me. I don't see them bothering anybody else. They're just collecting the recyclables," said Jaczerrie Taeza, UH Manoa Communicology Student.

"I think it's a good initiative because the number of security has been increased in recent times," said Syed Khan, UH Manoa Economics Graduate Student.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is an open campus with more than 20,000 students. Over the last three years of data from 2009 through 2011 UH Manoa has had 25 sexual assaults on campus along with nearly 250 burglaries and car thefts.

"I actually don't think it is a necessary action to take unless they can show crimes are being committed by these homeless people," said Dona Kubina, Parent and UH Alumna. "I wouldn't worry too much about my daughter's safety here. I went to school here 30 years ago and I felt really safe here."

Students pointed us to a homeless camp above campus housing. We also saw a man collecting recyclables on campus who no one we spoke with thought should be cited. And we saw a man that could've been mistaken for being homeless, but said he wasn't. He also said he was not a student or employee.

The UH Manoa Campus Security website points out safety is a high priority. It will work with homeless advocates to address the continuing homeless problems.

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