HONOLULU (KHON2) — City and state officials are working to prioritize cleaning up high crime areas across Oahu this year, focusing on Downtown and Waikiki.
Violent crimes continue to happen in 2022. According to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), during the week of Jan. 9, a 66-year-old was assaulted in broad daylight at Kewalo Basin. HPD also said two visitors were robbed at gunpoint in the Turtle Bay Resort parking lot.
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“We have assisted other visitors who have had similar situations and it’s very traumatic,” said Jessica Rich, President and CEO of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH).
For VASH, helping tourists who are victims of crime is part of its mission. Right now, Rich said the place to watch out for is Waikiki.
“It is not a safe time to be out walking alone in Waikiki. We advise against it,” Rich said.
Waikiki is part of City Council Chair Tommy Waters’ district.
“HPD is chronically short of police officers,” said Waters. “So I’m hoping that we can work with HPD to get more funding to them and hopefully that’ll go towards patrol officers.”
To help, tourism leaders and Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm are hoping to bring the Weed and Seed program to Waikiki in 2022. It aims to connect the community with law enforcement to handle concerns. However, weeding out crime in Chinatown is the priority.
“It can be a violent, dangerous place and particularly has been in the past,” said Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm. “Aala Park is the same way.”
Alm believes changing the way we deal with people that get arrested again and again can help cut down on crime.
“More than 100 chronically homeless people have been arrested in Chinatown in the last five months. We’re trying to get them assessed at OCCC when they get arrested for a felony drug possession and then get them into a treatment program,” said Alm.
Alm said these efforts can help play a role in revitalizing these trouble areas and restoring public safety.
“We can use the leverage of the criminal justice system to really help prevent crime — if you do it right,” Alm added.
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For 2022, the State Senate is also working on improving public safety by supporting programs to prevent re-entry and re-offending to name a few.