First Day of Undercover Police Work Nets Dozens of Jaywalkers

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- They look like everyone else, walking casually and enjoying the scenery. Then suddenly, they whip out their citation books.

After warning the public last week, undercover Honolulu police began issuing tickets to pedestrian law violators Wednesday.

When you want to cross a street, and there's no crosswalk nearby, do you look around for blue uniforms and then jet across if you don't see any officers? Police are on to you.

Lester Nishida is all smiles, as he jaywalks on Keeaumoku Street. His smile will fade because hustling after him is an undercover officer.

"I was wrong," the Kaneohe resident said. "But I was in a rush and that's no excuse, yeah."

Nearby, another officer in civilian clothes writes Glenn Johnson and Steve Bartlett up. The two brothers are visiting from the mainland.

"I just got caught," Johnson, a Tennessee resident, said. "Actually, it's the first time since I've been in Hawaii that I haven't used a crosswalk."

2007 started off deadly for Oahu pedestrians. In the first 10 weeks, 10 people were killed.

Police are now working undercover to catch violators of our pedestrian safety laws.

"It's a good thing because if that many people have been hurt," Bartlett, a Florida resident, said. "I'm still pretty quick on my feet. But I'd rather, like I said, I'd rather be hit with a ticket than be hit with a car."

People who work along Keeaumoku Street say pedestrians tend to obey the rules if they see uniformed officers.

"Before the police with uniform, people stop jaywalking," Vickie Nguyen-Kim, shop owner, said. "But now, they undercover. A lot of people get ticket."

While we were on Keeaumoku Street, dozens of jaywalkers received those dreaded $70 tickets.

In the five weeks since the stepped-up enforcement by uniformed officers began, there's been zero pedestrian fatalities.