Collaborative effort to address crime in Waikiki is making an impact, residents say

Residents say they're seeing fewer criminals and illegal campers in the state's prime tourist area.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:51 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 4:38 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - For years, vagrants would camp out at all hours at Pavilion 4 on Kalakaua Avenue near the Kapahulu Groin in Waikiki.

But today, they’re no longer there.

And some see that as a sign that the city’s “Safe and Sound” initiative is starting to have an impact by sending the message that illegal activity in Waikiki has greater consequences.

“It’s a babysitting service for troublemaking adults with nobody held accountable — until now,” said Waikiki resident and former journalist John Deutzman.

He credits the initiative, which in habitual criminal offenders can be ordered to stay out of Waikiki for six months to year and can be arrested on sight if they don’t.

The city prosecutor’s office said five offenders have already been banned so far from Waikiki.

And Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan said the program has resulted in at least 80 arrests.

He also said while “Safe and Sound” appears to be working, there’s more to do.

“And so how do we better help District 6 and our tourists that are in that area that are sometimes being harassed by those that are sitting around in various elements in Waikiki?”

Deutzman said one key goal is pushing out “troublemakers.”

Ohua Avenue, next to St. Augustine By The Sea Catholic Church, could be part of the effort. Beachgoers say campers there see the church area as a sanctuary, especially since the church feeds them.

Pastor Lane Akiona said he’s met with the mayor and the police chief to think of solutions.

“I think there’s going to have to be compromise,” said Akiona. “And I think we as a church are willing to make some of those compromises for the betterment of the whole community.”

Akona said his church won’t stop feeding the homeless, but he acknowledges that after handing out free lunches, the needy have changed.

“A little bit more assertive. A little bit more vocal, you know. And want things now,” he said.

Early Wednesday morning, police swept the area. Even during the day, they kept people from loitering.

The Waikiki Improvement Association said the next step is adding more resources.

“They have mental health issues, they have substance abuse issues, and we need a better ability within our community,” said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association. “And it’s not just for Waikiki, it’s for all of Honolulu. All the state, actually.”