HONOLULU(KHON2) — There have been stabbings, shootings, and violent assaults. Those have among the number of violent crimes in Waikiki in recent months.
Visitors are starting to take notice, and community leaders are looking for solutions.
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Mary and Richard Challenner, visiting from Colorado, said they were alarmed at the amount of sirens they’ve heard while on vacation.
“I mean it reminds me of New York City or Las Vegas,” Mary Challenner explained. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“When we were on the beach, about four times during the hour we were there, sirens came down,” her husband said.
Dean and Heather Reid, visiting from Australia, were also surprised at the amount of crime and police in Waikiki.
“We saw the emergency services flying up the road here and it went for a long time,” Reid explained. “There were lots and lots of them and they stopped at the point down there.”
“I guess nowhere is immune to crime,” Dean Reid said.
Robert Cavaco, the police union president, said violent crime is on the rise.
“We are seeing an increase in crimes in Waikiki especially the intensity of the crimes, your robberies, your stabbings, your aggravated assaults,” said Cavaco.
On March 19 prosecutors said Justice Kaio fatally shot 20-year-old Marqus McNeil on the corner of Lewers Street and Kalakaua Avenue. Less than two weeks later, a couple was brutally assaulted and robbed in the same area.
According to Honolulu Crimemapping, crime in general has gone up along with assaults in the last two months alone.
Chairperson of the Waikiki neighborhood board, Robert Finley, said its expected to get worse.
“Now that there’s visitors in town, people are showing up to take advantage of that,” Finley said.
Lawmakers and commuinity leaders will meet Thursday to discuss how to fix the problem.
Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association, said they hope to bring a Weed and Seed program to Waikiki.
“That’s going to be one of the goals of our discussion that takes place here,” Hannemann said. “We’re willing to be patient and work with government to make this happen. But we can’t just talk about the problem. We need to put out there solutions that we all buy into.”
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Until then, a spokesperson for HPD said:
“The district has increased police presence and visibility in Waikiki, especially in areas known for criminal activity. Fourth Watch or recently graduated officers have been assigned to supplement the patrol shifts. Some officers from support units, such as the Bike and ATV Details, have been shifted to patrol as well. They, along with plainclothes officers, have conducted drug and other enforcement operations, often at night on the beach or in parks or areas that have generated complaints.”