HONOLULU (KHON2) –A joint effort between the community and Honolulu police has returned to the streets of Waikiki. Their aim is to make the area safer, and not just when it comes to crime.
A few of the Honolulu Police Department’s (HPD) community policing efforts have returned after a long year on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes the Waikiki Citizens Patrol.
“Sometimes we’ll point out homeless encampments or even something like overflowing trash bins that need to be picked up more,” said Jacob Wiencek, a member of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board.
“The citizen’s patrol is basically an informal walk and talk where HPD can reach out to the community in a fun and informal way,” said Stephanie Virardi, an officer with HPD.
They are the eyes and ears of their community and point out the problems, including crime.
“Of course you might have your beach thefts or your petty crimes, or your thefts or shoplifting,” said Maj. Mark Cricchio of HPD.
It is not all petty crime. In June, there were two fatal stabbings in the area and, according to HPD CrimeMapping, there have been 10 cases of vandalism, six car break-ins, and two burglaries since Thursday, June 24. In all, police officers are busy and that is where the partnership with the citizens patrol can help.
“The police department is anywhere between 250 to 300 officers short, so the extent that we can be the eyes and ears and call 911 and let them know what’s going on I think that’s super helpful,” said Tommy Waters, chair of the Honolulu City Council.
These weekly citizens patrols are also a way to streamline residents’ concerns.
“Not only are we focused on building our relationship with HPD, but also get solutions with our elected officials for more long term changes,” said Wiencek.
The Waikiki citizens patrol walks every Tuesday and Thursday with two walks nightly.