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State: Conservation officers will be out in force to break up large Labor Day gatherings

Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 4:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says it will be all hands on deck this weekend for its conservation enforcement officers.

Meanwhile, at least one top lawmaker says more resources are needed and wants the state to ask the National Guard for help.

State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said more manpower is desperately needed “to intervene and prevent these illegal gatherings.”

Enforcement of gatherings, he added, “interferes with our law enforcement from being able to deal with other equally pernicious issues.”

A handful of state conservation officers were called last Saturday to break up a party of hundreds of college students at Ka Iwi coastline.

There were so many gathered, officials said they were only able to safely cite four people.

“If we were to have cited all of the participants, such a process would have extended the length of time to deal with this large group,” said state conservation enforcement Chief Jason Redulla.

House Majority Leader Della Belatti said enforcement is vital to prevent the spread of COVID.

On Oahu, all gatherings are limited to 25 people outdoors or 10 indoors.

“Nobody wants to see law enforcement crack down but at the point that there are 300 to 400 people gathering in an unauthorized way and its an organized effort, that’s not acceptable,” she said.

With Labor Day just a few days away, Bellatti is calling on the state to dial up enforcement. And she said the state should take advantage of National Guard members already helping with the pandemic.

“We need to have a full government response and I guess that to me is what’s frustrating about some of the actions that are being done or not done by our agencies,” she said.

Meanwhile, University of Hawaii President David Lassner confirmed Wednesday that students from several Oahu campuses were involved in Saturday’s party.

He says any student who violates the university’s code of conduct can face discipline.

DLNR said anyone with tips about large gatherings can call 643-DLNR.

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