Chinatown businesses want greater police presence after violent - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Chinatown businesses want greater police presence after violent attacks

Nicole Jones Nicole Jones
Miki Lee Miki Lee
Serena Hashimoto Serena Hashimoto

For five years, Nicole Jones has worked as the bar manager at Downbeat Diner and Lounge on Hotel Street in Chinatown.

She's had to tackle her fair share of problems over the years. But she never imagined having to deal with with this.

"We're in crisis mode and the police aren't really doing much to help us out," Jones said.

Last month, Jones was leaving a meeting one afternoon when a homeless woman tried to smash out her car window.

"She looked out of her mind," said Jones.

She managed to get away. Three of her coworkers, though, have been assaulted in recent months.

The attacks, coupled with a recent uptick in vandalism, spurred Chinatown business owners to reach out to police for help. They say it's taken them years to improve the neighborhood and its image, and they're determined to ensure the safety of Chinatown employees, patrons and residents.

On Monday, a group of business owners met with police in an effort to come up with a solution to the growing problem.

Bar 35 operations manager Miki Lee was at the meeting. "They offered to bring professionals to our businesses to talk about what we can do to be safer. Do we need curtains? Better lighting," she said. 

Serena Hashimoto, of Downbeat Diner, says she wants police to beef up patrols.

"We just want the cops that are stationed here in the neighborhood to walk a beat and we've asked that before this violence occurred and we're asking it consistently now," she said.

In a statement, the Honolulu Police Department said that in addition to patrol officers in the area, "there are additional officers assigned to monitor the area at all hours of the day."

Business owners were to attend the Chinatown Neighborhood Board meeting on Thursday to voice their concerns.

Jones, the Downbeat Diner bar manager, says the uptick in assaults and vandalism is scary.

She says several months ago, a server was jumped by a homeless man after leaving work at 2 a.m.  

"He was stabbed in the abdomen and the forearm. He was surprise attacked. He didn't know he was stabbed until he fought the guy off," Jones said.

The server still hasn't been able to return to work. More recently, a bartender had his shirt ripped off of him on his way into work and a cook was beaten waiting for the bus. "Someone came up behind him and struck him on the head, knocked him out, stole his wallet and all his stuff," Jones said. "He woke up in an ambulance."

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now.  All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly