Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Calls to police still hover near pre-APEC levels

By Rob Shikina


Despite the large security presence around the island for APEC, a Honolulu Police Department official said they haven't seen the drop in calls to police that they were expecting last week.

Service calls remained steady through the first half of the week, according to police statistics. Police had said earlier last week that calls might drop off as residents stayed home and avoided traffic gridlock caused by APEC.

HPD Assistant Chief Bart Huber said department officials visited or spoke with authorities of large planned events around the country and found service calls dropped during each event. The phenomenon was seen at the 2009 G-20 world leaders' summit in Pittsburgh, the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston and the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.

"A few other places (were) the same," Huber said. "If you're at home watching television, there's less chance you're going to be out being a victim of crime, or calling for police service, or getting involved in something (like) your car being broken into," he said.

The department, however, said service calls from Nov. 1 through Wednesday, the latest numbers available, were at about 2,600 calls a day.

For the first four days of the summit, which began Tuesday, there was a small decrease in crimes reported on Oahu, according to a crime-mapping website linked to HPD's website. There were 349 crimes reported from Tuesday through Friday. By comparison, there were 385, 384, and 388 crimes reported in the same period in the previous three weeks. The second week in October, however, only 311 crimes were reported on Oahu. The area between Chinatown and Diamond Head showed a similar pattern in crimes reported.

Sheryl Sunia, an instructor of justice administration at Hawaii Pacific University, said the ongoing efforts by city officials to inform the community about road closures might help keep service calls down. "A lot of people just avoid situations," she said. "If people were left in the dark, then agitation, irritation and everything that happens would increase."

Sunia, a former HPD detective who retired in 2009, said the city was disseminating information better than it did during the 2001 Asian Development Bank's meeting in Honolulu.

Huber said about a third of HPD's patrol force has been assigned to an APEC security force, but that it is not affecting the staffing for the island's eight districts. Officers are working overtime and reserve officers from the APEC force can supplement the regular patrol if needed, said Huber, who is handling some of HPD's APEC security operations.

HPD has allotted $18 million from its budget to provide security for the APEC meetings and would not say how many officers have been assigned to the APEC security force.

At the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, one of the events HPD studied in preparation for large events such as the APEC conference, run-of-the-mill service calls dropped despite protesters smashing windows and causing about $50,000 in damage, said Terry Seilhamer, who led about 1,200 Pennsylvania state police officers providing security for the summit.

During that event, several businesses closed and residents emptied out of downtown, leaving it like a ghost town, he said last week. About 3,000 to 4,000 officers were organized to provide security for the event, including officers brought in from other cities, said Seilhamer, now chief of police at Jackson Township in Pennsylvania.

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