Police, communities step up patrols as new laws toughen some crime penalties
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every year, there are new laws on the books meant to be tough on crime. But there are still concerns about crime and homelessness in places in Waikiki and Chinatown.
Purse snatchings inspired a new state law, enacted by the governor, providing tougher penalties for crimes against people 60 and older.
“We will not tolerate their targeting of the kupuna in our community, the most vulnerable members of the community,” said state Rep. Gregg Takayama of Pearl City, at the ceremony where Gov. David Ige signed the bill into law.
But new laws can only do so much.
Crime fighting also takes eyes and ears, so as the pandemic winds down, the Waikiki Community Patrol has resumed hitting the streets.
“You want police presence and police visibility, but the community also, they’re with us,” said Honolulu Police Maj. Mark Cricchio, who oversees the Waikiki district.
“I really believe a patrolling police officer is the best deterrent to crime, whether it be here in Waikiki, whether it be in Chinatown, Hawaii Kai or Haleiwa. Police need to have a presence,” said Honolulu City Council chair, Tommy Waters.
Police will also be stepping up patrols in Chinatown. The mayor’s office said it is working with HPD on plans for 24-hour foot patrols there.
Waters also said the city might be able to use COVID relief finds to hire hundreds of new officers.
“We got an influx of money through the American Rescue Plan,” he said. “I think it would be the perfect opportunity to put that money toward our police department, and even solving the homeless problem.”
Exactly how the city would solve the homeless problem is unclear. Despite the sweeps, the homeless keep coming, even as visitors return to Waikiki.
“One of our concerns as residents is what are some of the things that we can do to help people who are on the streets get help,” said Waikiki resident Daphne Rice, who regularly takes part in the community patrol.
“Chinatown, Waikiki — you have a lot of homeless. But you also have drug addiction, a lot of mental health issues. And you can arrest people every day, but there’s going to be more people to take their place,” said University of Hawaii law professor, Ken Lawson.
“The treatment, the services ware there. The money is there. It’s just putting it in the right places,” said state Sen. Sharon Moriwake, whose district includes Waikiki.
While the politicians work on funding and policy issues, there is one bright spot in Hawaii’s tourism mecca.
“The perception that, ‘Oh, crime is up,’ that’s furthest from the truth,” said HPD’s Cricchio. “I run the numbers from daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. And we’re down as far as crime in Waikiki.”
Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.