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Curfew curbs violence

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    The state plans to lift a 10 p.m. curfew at Kalihi Valley Homes, where security officers Tuuese Taliloa, left, and Jerry Tuitea monitored vehicles yesterday as they drove through the main entrance.

The state says a 10 p.m. curfew at Kalihi Valley Homes did its job in quelling violence and will be lifted as early as July 1, a month ahead of schedule.

Residents at the 372-unit public housing project largely supported the curfew, and housing officials have said they were exploring the possibility of making it permanent.

But yesterday the Hawaii Public Housing Authority said the curfew—which several legal advocates and lawmakers had raised issue with—would be lifted before the state’s Aug. 1 deadline to do so.

"We think things have calmed down," said Alan Sarhan, spokesman for the housing authority.

Sarhan acknowledged that making the curfew permanent would have required overcoming significant legal hurdles.

"We cannot make the curfew as we all know it permanent," he said, adding that some elements of the curfew at KVH could remain, though he could not immediately say what those would be.

HPHA plans to sit down with residents this month, before lifting the curfew, to hash out what security improvements should be made at the project.

The curfew requires residents to be in their homes from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Guests must leave at 10 p.m., and people who work late have to register with security.

Nevertheless, the end of the curfew is expected to disappoint more than a few residents, who said the move helped address rising violence.

Longtime KVH resident Pat Kamalu said since the curfew started, no major violent incidents have occurred. "There’s a lot of parents who think it should stay permanently. I think so, too," Kamalu said. "It’s been quiet."

Meanwhile, the authority is looking to amend its rules to spell out that HPHA has the right to institute a temporary curfew at a housing project at any time.

The state attorney general’s office gave the agency approval to keep the KVH curfew in effect temporarily—for up to 120 days—saying such an action is within HPHA’s right to tackle a public safety threat.

Travis Thompson, HPHA board chairman, said the curfew accomplished what it was supposed to and could be a useful tool in the future.

"I’m just hoping everything has calmed down (at KVH)," he said, adding that "if emotions become high in another location," instituting a curfew could be an option. "Nobody should have fears in the place where they live," he said.

The curfew was put in place April 1, following a string of violent confrontations between feuding gangs at KVH and Kuhio Park Terrace. They escalated into a shooting in March that injured two people.

KPT was not subject to a curfew because residents said it would hurt more than help.

Police Maj. William Chur, commander of the Kalihi substation, said things have calmed down since the KVH curfew started. "Peace has been restored," he said, adding that he does not expect violence to kick back up once the curfew is lifted.

The curfew discussion comes as the housing authority struggles to address security concerns at public housing projects in the urban core, and as residents say other measures to fight crime in recent years, including extra security, have proved ineffective.

Denise Wise, executive director of HPHA, has pointed out that public housing authorities on the mainland have instituted curfews, though most—if not all—of those appear to target youths only.


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