Police arrest at least 10 ‘habitual’ offenders in Waikiki as part of crackdown on crime

A crackdown on “habitual criminals” in Waikiki is starting to get results.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:09 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 2, 2022 at 8:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A crackdown on “habitual criminals” in Waikiki is starting to get results.

Since September, when the Safe and Sound Waikiki program was launched, police have arrested 10 people near Kuhio Beach ― mostly on drug charges.

Court records show those 10 people have at least 54 prior felony and misdemeanor convictions combined. Some of the offenses date back to the late 1980s.

“Overall, I’m ecstatic. I’m elated that our department is out there doing what it needs to do with our community support,” said HPD Chief Joe Logan.

Former HPD Deputy Chief John McCarthy was assigned to Waikiki several times during his career.

He said he recognizes several of the suspects caught in the latest sweeps as the same people who were conducting crimes years ago when he was working in the state’s no. 1 tourist destination.

“They have some kind of violent history of offending in their past and then they have the chronic theft issues -- they walk into stores, into the different lobbies, and just steal things,” said McCarthy.

Area businesses and residents say the increased law enforcement presence is making the streets safer.

“Waikiki is starting to see the results of the joint Safe and Sound effort between HPD, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. And actually, we’re starting to see some cooperation from the courts,” said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

Under the Safe and Sound Waikiki program, judges can order habitual offenders to stay out of Waikiki for six months or a year. If they’re seen in the area, they can be arrested on sight.

But not all think the programs will solve Waikiki’s crime problem

“No, it’s a temporary Band-Aid, again. So someone is arrested, put in our jail, and then a judge says you can’t go into the downtown or the Waikiki area anymore?” said longtime public defender Jacquie Esser.

“What happens when they’re released? They’re going to have to go somewhere.”

Law enforcement and area businesses agree that more affordable housing and mental health services will help solve the crime problem over the long-term. But in the meantime, they said the sweeps are making their streets safer.