Kokua Line: Expect more police at Honolulu City Lights after violent muggings at past events
Question: Can you find out whether the mayor is going to do anything to beef up security at Honolulu City Lights this year?
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Question: Can you find out whether the mayor is going to do anything to beef up security at Honolulu City Lights this year? My son was one of the boys who got jumped last year while walking back to their cars with their friends (including girls). He ended up in the ER with nine stitches to his mouth and lip. He still has the scar to show for it. After some internet discussions after it happened, it was apparent that this happens every year there. Last year the mayor’s office chimed in online, I believe on Stolen Stuff Hawaii, and mentioned they would beef up security. I would like to know how/when/where to ensure everyone is safe going to that city-sponsored event.
Answer: Yes, there will be more uniformed and plainclothes police officers on the civic grounds and in surrounding areas during the upcoming Honolulu City Lights festivities, said Andrew Pereira, a spokesman for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
“The safety of the public is our highest priority, and although we cannot share the exact details of our security measures, the city is aware of what happened last year and has taken additional steps to deter criminal activity,” he said. “Residents or visitors who come to Honolulu Hale and the civic grounds to enjoy the holiday displays should immediately call 911 if they feel threatened or observe any suspicious activity.”
The annual festival is scheduled to kick off Saturday with the traditional Electric Light Parade, Hono- lulu Hale tree-lighting ceremony and illumination of displays throughout the civic center. The displays, and related special events, will continue through Dec. 29. See honolulucitylights.org for details. The increased police presence will be for the entire festival, not just the first night.
Our search of “Honolulu City Lights” within the Facebook group Stolen Stuff Hawaii did yield reports of violent muggings of people attending the festival in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, including the one that injured your son, which occurred on Dec. 8, a week after opening night that year.
According to the social media post, a group of teenagers were mobbed near a parking garage after they had viewed the holiday lights and displays. The attackers were young men, some reportedly wielding knives. The crimes were reported to the police. The mayor’s communications team did respond to the post, as you recalled, saying that security would be increased for the rest of the festival and expressing sorrow that “innocent people were victimized and attacked while they were trying to enjoy our Honolulu City Lights.”
Reading through hundreds of comments on Stolen Stuff Hawaii’s Facebook page about this and earlier attacks, it’s clear that these crimes, rare though they are, have a profound negative impact — most directly on the victims, of course, but also on relatives and friends, bystanders and others. The shock of being robbed or assaulted — or of seeing someone targeted — during what was supposed to be a fun night out celebrating Christmas seems to intensify the trauma.
Besides highlighting the need to improve public safety, your question serves as a reminder for readers ahead of this year’s event: Be alert, especially in parking garages, and call 911 at the first sign of trouble.
On a Tuesday after my husband’s ukulele class, he stopped by the Hawaii Kai Costco. As he was exiting, he dropped his credit card. At home I received a phone call that his credit card was turned in to customer service. My husband was still in the parking lot. Mahalo nui loa to the kind and honest person. Your kind deed was truly appreciated. — Gratefully, the Wongs
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.