HONOLULU (KHON2) — An extra layer of security for law enforcement has been mostly out of service in Chinatown. The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) said out of 26 cameras in the area, 20 of them are not working. Business owners there said the problem has been going on for years.

Fixing the cameras is only part of the problem; they also need volunteers to monitor the videos and at this point, they are having a hard time getting them.

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The cameras provided some peace of mind for business owners when they were installed about 25 years ago, but they have not been upgraded since. HPD said they still record on VHS tapes, and business owners said fixing the broken cameras does not make much sense at this point.

“Many of the reasons are there are no parts, they cannot replace the parts,” said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association.

She said the Honolulu City Council has approved money to replace the cameras, and it is only a matter of getting it contracted out and finally replacing the aging system.

“Without the cameras, it’s hard. We have patrol cars circling, but the patrol cars don’t stop and see it. So, you need the cameras to be your eyes and your ears, so that they can radio in and say ‘hey hey,'” she added.

Shubert-Kwock said merchants have requested a total of 32 cameras because there are more areas where crimes are being reported. But these cameras will not mean a whole lot until there is actually someone monitoring them. She said volunteers will not do that job anymore because no one wants to do it. Instead, the city needs to actually hire someone to do the job.

“You cannot rely on a volunteer on a part-time basis when crime is happening full-time. Therefore, it’s only common sense to have a full-time position 24/7. Why have the technology when you can’t implement it?” said Shubert-Kwock.

In a letter written by HPD Interim Chief Rade Vanic to the Honolulu City Council and the mayor, he stated: “HPD is currently working with the Department of Information Technology on upgrading and replacing cameras and monitoring system in the Chinatown area.”

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KHON2 reached out to the city council and the office of Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi but has not heard back.