HONOLULU (KHON2) — There is a group that is keeping an eye out for public safety in Waikiki with so many tourists returning to the islands. It is also their mission to make sure visitors are getting an extra dose of aloha.
The work of the Aloha Ambassadors in Waikiki has not stopped throughout the pandemic. These workers enhance the health and safety of residents and visitors alike.
Cam Mullenaux joined the Aloha Ambassadors recently, he said he was looking for a change in careers. Mullenaux is a power washer and cleans the streets in Waikiki each morning.
Mullenaux said, “Whether it be the crosswalk bottoms or the trash cans, or any high touch areas, but even the ground it’s nice to have a clean walkway.”
The Aloha Ambassadors are contracted by the City and the Waikiki Business Improvement District. More than 40 staff members make up the ambassadors and the majority of these essential workers stayed on the job during the pandemic.
The ambassadors have different roles: Some clean while others greet. Joshua Lewis has biked around Waikiki as part of the safety unit for almost nine months.
Lewis said, “The good, the bad, the ugly, you name it. I have seen it all.”
He said in July 2020, the streets in Waikiki were mostly empty. Visitors are back, however, and the Aloha Ambassadors said reminding people not to bike on sidewalks or wait for the crosswalk signal is routine.
Lewis is noticing fewer reports of petty crime, however
“Before the pandemic, they were leaving their brains at home, and like you leave your car keys anywhere and then wonder why it’s gone,” Lewis said. “But now, they are using their brains a lot more, so we’re not really hearing a lot about the thieves. ”
The Honolulu Police Department is reporting a lower crime trend in Waikiki. Only 60 burglaries were reported from January to May of 2021, compared to 104 back in 2019 when tourism was also going strong.
But that is not all; Car break-ins also declined with 118 reported in 2021, compared to 152 in 2020. Overall arrests are also much lower.
Lewis suspects the pandemic has heightened people’s awareness. He said, “Everyone seems to be more responsible now.”