Military leaders warn Hawaii servicemembers: Waikiki a 'high risk area'

(Image: AFDCB)
(Image: AFDCB)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. military officials posted a warning letter to all Hawaii-based service members last month, alerting them that several areas in Waikiki have been flagged for high levels of "violent crime" and "illegal activity."

The letter, distributed by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board, is meant to inform military members and their families of the 'high risk' areas while the board decides whether or not the locations "should be recommended for 'off-limits' designations" by the Department of Defense.

"We take the well-being of our military personnel very seriously.  As good neighbors, we are committed to coordinating with local authorities to improve safety for our personnel both on and off the installation," the Navy said in a statement.

The board claims that more than 1,000 arrests involving violent crimes or drugs and alcohol have been near the intersections of Kalakaua Ave. and Royal Hawaiian Ave. and Kalakaua Ave. and Kapahulu Ave. over the last 180 days.

The notice also listed 13 different Waikiki clubs and bars under review.

A spokesperson for the Honolulu Police Department on Thursday afternoon disputed the number listed on the flyer and said it did not reflect the actual number of arrests that have been made for those crimes.

Industry leaders agree and say Waikiki is still one of the safest destinations in the world.

"There really has not been any increases year over year, however, obviously we've had a rash of these high profile and very tragic situations occur. We hope the people who are out and about at that hour would exercise caution, but that would be the case any place in the world," said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

The intersection is near the location where William Brown, a 23-year-old Marine, was stabbed to death in October.

Last week, after a  21-year-old woman said she was raped, burned and beaten by a man she met outside out a Waikiki nightclub, some area residents said they felt unsafe and demanded a much stronger police presence.

"Unfortunately, we can't put a police officer on every corner or every square foot of Waikiki," Honolulu Police Commission chairman Max Sword said at the time. "But they're doing the best job that they can with the officers that they have."

"They've increased patrols and we're also talking to the city administration about increasing camera coverage because some of these areas where these incidents have occurred are outside the existing camera coverage," Egged said.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.