Waikiki lifeguards now have direct line to report violent, lewd behavior

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police have come up with a quicker way for lifeguards in Waikiki to report bad behavior by homeless on the beach.

From now on, they can call the Waikiki substation directly.

Hawaii News Now reported Wednesday that the old procedure took too long. Lifeguards had to radio Ocean Safety dispatch, which then notified Honolulu Police dispatch and then an officer would be sent.

Two days after the story, HPD announced that lifeguards can call the officer assigned to the Waikiki station.

"It's only about 100 feet or so," said Deputy Chief John McCarthy. "But yet there's physical barriers there so I think we've worked out something that might shorten the process and get a quicker response."

The officer assigned to the station cannot leave the building but can send another quickly, likely a bike patrolman.

The bike unit is assigned to the Kalakaua area which includes the pavilions.

Honolulu police are also stepping up foot patrols at the pavilions.

Cell phone videos taken by frustrated lifeguards show fights in the structures, women crouching down and urinating right next to the benches.  Other video shows homeless couples engaged in lewd acts all in broad daylight.

Other obscene behavior happens close to the pavilions, right on Waikiki's iconic sand.

Tourists have been turning to the lifeguards for help but leaving the tower to address the issues, would leave beachgoers without an extra set of eyes.

Another source of frustration, when police do arrive, the subjects are done with their disgusting acts and have moved on.

McCarthy says in those cases, cell phone videos can sometimes be used as evidence to make a case. He says the person taking the video just has to make a complaint and be willing to testify in court.

The behavior may be offensive but it's mostly misdemeanor crimes and tickets. McCarthy says the officers responding do check for warrants.

"That's what we end up arresting them for, not the actual criminal act because that's just a citation. They'll come in for the warrants, they'll be held, go to court, and normally released the next day" and back on the beach and in the pavilion.

Long-term solutions include design changes to the stone structures.

The city is looking at using a private company to install lockers in the pavilions for beachgoers to secure their valuables in.  There will be a fee to use them but that money will pay to staff the facility.

The benches and tables would also be removed.

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