Sheriffs, Police Force Dozens of Homeless Out of Keehi Lagoon Park

Lt. Patrick Lee
Lt. Patrick Lee

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Keehi Lagoon Park near the Honolulu International Airport features tennis courts and a baseball field. But along a canal in the back, there's also a homeless camp that some park users say is buzzing with criminal activity.

Law enforcement officers raided the site Tuesday.

Dozens of people sit along the tennis courts at Keehi Lagoon Park, as state sheriffs and Honolulu police hover.

"Twenty four hours, this place is going to get cleaned up," a sheriff told a group of homeless people.

An early-morning sweep at the homeless camp nearby nets 10 people on outstanding warrants, two on immigration matters, two men accused of sexually assaulting a girl, and a suspected drug offender.

"They had the entrance of the parking lot blocked off by a sheriff's car," Howard Lee, tennis player, said. "So I stopped and asked him, you know, if I could enter. He says, 'No, sorry.'"

Sheriffs say there's growing concern among park users about criminal activity at the tents.

"The intelligence that we've gotten is that there's some prostitution going on. We have gambling at night. We have drug dealing," Lt. Patrick Lee, state sheriff's office, said. "The canal part is actually part of the airport, and it becomes a homeland security issue."

You can see inside the makeshift homes. An oriental fan adorns a wall. There's a separate bedroom in one of the tents. Come wednesday, they'll be gone.

"We're going to be posting a restricted area sign," Lt. Lee said. "And these structures will be taken down."

With the suspects taken away, Howard Lee can finally start his tennis game.

"I'm sympathetic toward the homeless actually," he said. "But I also understand this is a public park."

A park that, he says, should 'serve' everyone.

Sheriffs say they called in social workers to help the homeless people, who weren't arrested, find housing alternatives.