Flanked by Waikiki stakeholders and members of Hawaii’s visitor industry, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Honolulu Police Maj. Dagan Tsuchida this morning unveiled a new Waikiki crime-fighting plan.
“Waikiki is one of the safest visitor destinations in the entire world, and we want to make sure our visitors always feel comfortable in this very special place,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said the city’s multi-point plan, includes the following:
>> Install 40 more surveillance cameras paid for by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Waikiki Business Improvement District Association. There are currently 10 city cameras mostly along Kalakaua Avenue.
>> Consider a moratorium on late-night cabaret liquor licenses, which allows drinking until 4 a.m.
>> Add businesses to three more of the four Waikiki beach pavilions.
>> Beef up bike patrol and patrolling from new recruits.
>> Enforce a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew for unaccompanied children under the age of 16 years old.
>> Remove concrete benches and walls from three Waikiki locations where “bad elements” were known to gather.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Jeff Merz said he supports the changes, which come amid cries to beef up security in Waikiki, where several high profile crimes have recently occurred.
On President’s Day, a male tourist was robbed and assaulted by a mob on a Kalakaua Avenue near Macy’s around 3:50 a.m. The attack later led to the arrest of a juvenile suspect.
A 32-year-old man also was recently charged in connection with an attack on a 57-year-old male visitor who had been checking out of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. And a couple of months ago, police arrested a 24-year-old man after he allegedly stabbed another man in a drug deal gone bad in front of The Modern Honolulu hotel.
“I’ve lived in Waikiki for 17 years. Crime here comes in waves. Right now, I think we’ve got an uptick again. There have been more assaults and stabbings even during the day, that’s different,” Merz said. “I think the cameras are a good idea along with commercialization of the pavilions, provided that they are run by local vendors that provide local jobs and services that the community can use. I also support an increased police presence in Waikiki.”
Waikiki stakeholders, including law enforcement, military and Judiciary personnel, also are gearing up for another Visitor Public Safety Conference, sponsored by the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA). The group first met about this time last year to address, among other incidents, a December 2017 warning to military service members about the dangers of Waikiki from an Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board. The board, which ultimately did not place Waikiki establishments off-limits, had been reacting to three stabbings of military members, one fatal.
Aspects of the city’s current crime-fighting package, especially installing more cameras and putting a moratorium on late-night cabaret liquor licenses, were discussed at last March’s Visitor Public Safety Conference.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board chairman Bob Finley said the cameras, which still have to be approved by the Honolulu City Council, have been a long-time coming.
“This idea goes all the way back to 2010 when we were hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,” Finley said. “They will be a very welcome addition to Waikiki.”