Crackdown on crime at Ala Wai Harbor turns up fugitives, triggers hundreds of citations

Published: Dec. 11, 2019 at 3:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - State law enforcement officers spent 40 hours over 10 days last month to find out how much crime is happening at the state's largest small boat harbor.

What they found could lead to much-needed improvements.

State lawmakers will use the information from last month’s crackdown at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor to decide how much money to spend on security and enforcement and whether any laws need to change.

The investigation included one person arrested for assault, five people arrested for warrants, four people warned for nudity, eight theft investigations, and more than 500 citations over three weekends in November.

Violations also included boats without permits and illegal parking and camping.

"We see it all the time," said slip holder Matt Merrill.

Those who live and work at the harbor aren’t surprised by the numbers. However, lawmakers said the results are shocking.

“I didn’t know it was that extensive and that was only three days on the weekend,” said the area’s State Senator Sharon Moriwaki. “It really provided the data that we need from the legislature to say this is something we really need to attend to.”

Moriwaki said the crackdown shows the need for more funding and enforcement.

There have been proposals to redevelop the harbor but so far all have been rejected.

"It’s the first thing you see going into Waikiki,” Moriwaki said. ‘This is prime property. This is something we should treasure and that we should maintain and I’d like to see us have it back to what it was when it was first created.”

Merrill said the Department of Land and Natural Resources should have more than enough money to manage the harbor, especially since for many slip fees increased, in some cases as high as 100-percent.

“The docks are pretty decrepit, some of them. The broken-down piers have been broken for years. The new piers have leaky faucets and plumbing that breaks,” Merrill said. “There’s an enforcement agency that we don’t see, we don’t see them doing the enforcing that we pay for.”

Moriwaki said she is also working on legislation to make abandoning a vessel a criminal offense.

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