Last week, government officials and non-profit organizations held a “Safety in Waikīkī” town hall meeting as part of an effort to alleviate crime and homelessness in the area.
Burglaries, car break-ins and assaults have all resumed in recent months in Waikīkī.
Despite the upward trend in crime, Maj. Randall Platt of the Honolulu Police Department says that activity is only just returning to pre-pandemic levels.
“COVID year numbers are an anomaly. When we talk about rising crime, you know, that crime is rising, crime is rising, it is. Crime numbers are rising in 2022 as we let’s get out of the pandemic and get back to our normal work and play lives, so in a sense they’re going up, but we’re kind of going back to normal,” Platt said.
Platt says HPD uses its PEACE initiative, which stands for Proactive Enforcement Against Criminal Elements. PEACE starts with raising awareness in the homeless community and increased police activity.
“We go out and try to provide services to homeless people. Awareness and education are important. But sometimes they won’t be receptive,” he said. “So the second thing, the second step, is strict enforcement of rules and regulations.”
Waikīkī and surrounding areas in east Honolulu have also seen an increase in homelessness, according to the latest spot counts.
Nonprofits and city partners have tried to help by offering more services, such as increasing shelter capacity and providing mental health care.
Honolulu District Attorney Steve Alm said more could be done. He says the Weed and Seed strategy should start in Waikīkī, similar to what was used in Chinatown to weed out criminal offenders
“A lot of chronically homeless people have mental health and/or drug and alcohol issues. And a lot of people in that situation on the streets, like in Chinatown, just don’t want services,” Alm said. .
“So if they accept the services, that’s fine. But if they don’t, they often end up being arrested by the HPD. And we’ve come up with some really good strategies for people who have been arrested. in order to bring these homeless people off the streets and provide services,” he added.