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Hale Kipa talks fail to ease neighborhood’s safety fears

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Punky Pletan-Cross, chief executive officer for Hale Kipa, addressed last night a crowd of about 300 Manoa residents upset about the behavior of residents of the group home for youths.

Manoa residents last night assailed the Hale Kipa youth therapeutic group home in their neighborhood, which housed two youths charged in the brutal killing of a taxicab driver in Waipahu in May.

Hale Kipa Chief Executive Officer Punky Pletan-Cross addressed a group of about 300 Manoa residents in a community meeting at the Manoa Elementary School cafeteria.

"I told him something’s got to be done," said Nelson Tang, 57, whose house borders the Damon Street group home. "As recently as two nights ago, they were making a lot of noise. They threw rocks at my dog. … They’re bad kids, you can tell. They’re out-of-control kids. Their language – it’s hate coming out."

But state Rep. Isaac Choy, who called the meeting, decided after presentations by Pletan-Cross and others that group discussions would follow rather than a time-consuming open-microphone session.

Many residents marched up to Pletan-Cross to express their dissatisfaction with the facility.

"We’re just concerned that we never knew what was happening," resident Ed Narimasu, 66, said last night. "We had to find out through the media. … They killed the cabdriver. It’s disturbing they lived right next door to us."

He is hoping Hale Kipa will keep community members, at the least immediate neighbors, informed of future incidents.

Hale Kipa residents Michael Robles, 18, and a 17-year-old boy have been charged with the murder of cabdriver Charlys Ty Tang, 41, who was found bleeding profusely from the face and head in a Waipahu supermarket parking lot at about 1:55 a.m. May 1 and later died.

"I don’t feel safe," a woman who also lives on Damon Street, but asked not to be named, told Stanton Michaels, administrator of the state Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, which oversees Hale Kipa. "It looks scary."

Pletan-Cross said Hale Kipa called police once the sketches of the two murder suspects in the May 1 beating death of Tang was released.

The state is expected to take a few weeks more to investigate whether Hale Kipa acted appropriately.

Pletan-Cross promised that Hale Kipa has no intention of reopening its other Manoa facility on Loulu Street. It was shut down at the end of April due to funding and utilization problems.

He said Hale Kipa is looking for funding to build a shelter facility on a Fort Weaver Road property that it owns.

Neither the state agency that refers residents nor Hale Kipa believes it has youths in these programs who would be violent, Pletan-Cross said.


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