Government and private business partners announced stepped up security efforts in Waikīkī - the state's major economic engine.
There are an estimated 15-thousand visitors in Waikiki on any given day. The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Honolulu as the safest big city in the nation two years ago. Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he wants to keep it that way.
“We’re gonna be installing 40 more high resolution cameras in the Waikiki area. We have 10 in place. We’re gonna put another 40, so, we will have 50 cameras watching what’s happening on the streets and catching the bad guys if they commit crimes and, hopefully, deterring them from committing crimes.”
The Hawai’i Tourism Authority provided a $300-thousand grant and the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association donated another $75-thousand to purchase the cameras. Volunteers will monitor them daily until 11pm, followed by
Honolulu Police Department officers. HPD Major, Dagan Tsuchida, commander of the Waikiki District, says HPD is also stepping up its presence in response to recent attacks on tourists.
“In Waikiki, currently, I have not only my regular patrol officers, I ATV detail, I have a full-time bicycle detail, two plainclothes operation officers, and, I also have officers that are in their second phase of their training and depending on the class size, we have anywhere from a dozen up to 20 or so officers patrolling the area.”
Major Tsuchida says HPD will continue to increase the HPD force in Waikiki in 5 percent annual increments over the next few years. The Waikiki community also requested removal of concrete features along Kalakaua Avenue. Ross Sasamura is chief engineer and director of the City’s Department of Facilities Maintenance.
“Some low walls that actually were areas that were used for loitering were removed from 3 different locations, near the International Marketplace, in front of the Outrigger Waikiki, and near the Waikiki Business Plaza. The areas now are being returned to an aesthetic condition that we’re very proud of.”
Meanwhile, City Department of Transportation Services crews will continue to install the 360-degree security cameras along with LED street lights. A resolution from the Honolulu City Council is needed before the cameras can be used and the public notified. Mayor Caldwell is also working on other security safeguards.
“Looking at maybe placing a moratorium on cabaret
licenses in Waikiki. But, we want to sit down and talk with the Liquor Commission a little bit before we do this. We do know that we had an incident involving the Alley Cat Lounge. It was an illegal cabaret. It’s now gone but we don’t want those kinds of bad activities happening at four in the morning. We want everyone to be safe.”
Last year, visitors spent 8.16 billion dollars on O’ahu, a majority of that in Waikiki. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News[WY1] .