Chinatown merchants look to bring on private security - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Chinatown merchants look to bring on private security

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Facing rising violence and vandalism, Chinatown businesses are looking to hire a private security guards to watch their properties overnight.

Real Office Centers, on Nuuanu Avenue, already pays a security guard to watch its property from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Cameron McElroy, ROC sales manager, said it's worth the investment.

"It's surprisingly easy to scale a fence and get in here, so it's nice to have someone here when no one else is," he said.

Last month, Hawaii News Now reported on a spate of violent attacks in Chinatown and a call from merchants for more police presence.

While police presence has been increased, businesses say they want to do more to deter problems.

A dozen businesses are interested in banding together to hire a security firm.

"We're looking into organizations that do have former HPD officers or individuals that have training. They would basically be there to check the premises when businesses are most vulnerable," said Nicole Reid, of Manifest art cafe and bar.

The security officers would patrol overnight, keeping an eye on storefronts.

Reid said private security can train her staff and other Chinatown merchants to accurately report crimes to cops. They could also teach them when a 911 call isn't warranted.

"Not everybody is looking to commit a crime," Reid said. "Some people are mentally ill and they need a different kind of help."

She said while business owners' concerns led to more officers being assigned to Chinatown, private guards would add another layer of security.

"Just about every business in this area has been broken into or messed with in some way," McElroy said.

Reid added, "Being able to have the security of our employees is paramount along with our clientele, but it by no means means that it's unsafe to come down here. It's just better business practice, which is what Waikiki does, which is what Fort Street Mall does."

Chinatown merchants would share the cost for a security firm's services.

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