Local Connection: Chinatown Homeless Violence - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Chinatown Homeless Violence

The Honolulu police Department announced last week that 13 additional beat officers are being assigned to the downtown and Chinatown area.  This apparently in response to increasing violence blamed on homelessness.

Reported only on Hawaii News Now… The additional patrols were welcome news for residents…businesses and workers.

What's unfortunate is that the police department didn't announce the added manpower until simmering frustration about police inaction boiled up in public. 

A day before the police announcement…we interviewed a restaurant manager who had been assaulted…and she told us one of her co-workers had been stabbed with a pair of scissors.  Other Chinatown workers reported similar experiences going back months.  And the violence isn't restricted to nighttime hours. Just the other day on River Street…one of our news photographers was threatened by a woman with a two-by-four.

The same day as our report…their frustrations were aired at the neighborhood board.  Residents and businesses complained police response to their calls was slow…perpetrators get away…possibly to commit other violent acts.  It had become so bad some public events meant to encourage people to come into Chinatown have been moved or canceled.

Homelessness in the area is not new… but in the past the concerns were mostly about unsanitary conditions on streets…sidewalks and parks. The violence was a serious escalation of the problem.  It should have been recognized by police before citizens felt they needed to turn to the media. 

Unfortunately…when it comes to dealing with homelessness…city and state action often seems prompted by media reports…rather than citizen concerns. It's a sad state of affairs when government officials seem more concerned about their image…than public safety.

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