HONOLULU (KHON2) — A district contract security manager for Allied Universal is calling for patience at Lihue Airport following recent arrests of travelers causing disturbances. He’s also shining a light on the dedicated airport law enforcement team that continue to be professional while working under unfavorable conditions.
“The men and women of the airport security and police detail are tasked with first showing restraint and aloha. Sometimes that is put to the test,” said Charlie Iona.
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“There is a threshold that once it is crossed, then action must be taken,” he continued. “They do take a lot, but many have gone through extensive training that you normally don’t experience especially in the security industry.“
Iona said sometimes they do run into problems with travelers being impatient, then one thing leads to another. When it gets out of hand and they become aggressive, an arrest will usually occur. According to Kauai Police Department, two arrests were made in late July for disorderly conduct.
1 RESIDENT, 1 VISITOR CHARGED AFTER CREATING DISTURBANCES
On July 29, a 37-year-old Kaneohe resident was arrested after he was accused of yelling profanities and racial slurs toward an airline employee. An airport police officer escorted the passenger from the plane as he continued to yell and scream at everyone in the vicinity, causing a disturbance. Police said he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and harassment. His total bail for both charges was $2,000.
On July 31, a 58-year-old resident of Miami Beach, Florida, was also arrested for disorderly conduct after police said he was “recklessly creating a risk of alarming members of the public by engaging in violent or tumultuous behavior.” He was charged with disorderly conduct; bail was set at $50.
Though Iona would like to see more improvements at the airport, he said it’s all about the footprint of where it’s located.
“When you have only so much area to work with, that plays a role on what can and cannot be done,” he explained. “A more open environment leads to better temperament in my opinion.”
Just like on the other islands, Lihue Airport has seen its share of long lines getting through the checkpoint, which was especially bad more than a week ago when there were two broken X-ray machines. A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson told KHON2 on Monday that the units have both been repaired and are fully operational now.
In addition to the lines, there have been issues of no parking at the airport.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Hawaii Department of Transportation sent out an advisory that morning about the full parking lot, saying the best course was to be dropped off.
DOT said the problems weren’t Turo-related, just “a busy day.”
“With the increase in flights and the larger aircrafts being used, that will determine the number of travelers we expect to see at the airport at any given time,” he said.
On Tuesday, TSA added that the busiest times at the security checkpoint are driven by the flight departure schedules determined by the airlines.
“When there is a concentrated number of flight departures over a short period of time, there will be intervals when the number of departing passengers may exceed the capacity of the TSA security checkpoint,” said Lorie Dankers, TSA spokesperson. “This is why it is essential that travelers arrive early and prepared to allow for completion of every step of the travel process from curb to gate.”
A MESSAGE TO VISITORS
Iona would like to thank tourists for visiting and hopes they had a wonderful experience. He also asks that they be patient in crowded situations.
“Paying to have TSA PreCheck, if you are a frequent traveler, helps the wait time because you are expressed through a PreCheck line that normally does not have a crowd,” he said.
On Tuesday, Dankers clarified that you don’t have to be a frequent traveler for the program, which allows travelers to be eligible for a different type of screening through the security checkpoint.
“Eligible TSA PreCheck travelers do not need to remove shoes, belts, light outerwear, laptops, electronics larger than a cell phone or travel-size liquids from carry-on luggage,” she said.
In July, 95% of travelers eligible for TSA PreCheck waited five minutes or less to be screened at airports nationwide. Another perk is they generally have the least amount of physical contact during the security screening process. For more information on the program, click here.
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“Eventually you will get to your destination,” said Iona, “and like anything else, there are steps to take and one of it being going through the TSA checkpoints, whether it’s busy or not.”