Question: About 12:20 a.m. April 29 at the Kapiolani Park tennis courts, a police officer announced that all cars parked on Kalakaua Avenue would be towed in five minutes. We were aware that cars would be towed at a certain time, but thought it would start at 1 a.m., as posted. Did the police officer have the right to announce towing way before the posted time? We were all upset because we believed we had time to complete our tennis game just before 1 a.m.
In a tizzy over
Answer: Officers cannot order cars to be towed before the posted tow-away time, said Michelle Yu, spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department.
According to the captain at District VI (Waikiki), the officer involved said he was merely reminding people that the tow-away would begin at 1 a.m. He did that "as a courtesy," Yu said.
The officer said he did not mean that the cars would be towed before then, she said.
If you want to follow up, call District VI, 529-3386.
Q: I called a few weeks ago to complain about police driving around without their blue lights on. You said that, generally, police are supposed to have their blue lights on at night and to call back with details. Well, at about 10:10 p.m. one night, I was passing some real slow traffic on a long stretch of Kahekili Highway (going about 10 over the speed limit) when all of a sudden, this guy comes up with no light on and pulls up right behind me, then flashes his lights. It turns out he was a police officer. This is not right. I'm not a criminal. This is a public-safety issue. Police are supposed to be recognized.
A: We also received your follow-up calls with the license numbers of two other police vehicles you said were driving without their blue lights on.
Here's a broader explanation from the Honolulu Police Department: While police generally should drive with their blue lights on at night, they are not mandated to do so.
"If we're working a traffic enforcement program, such as DUI or speeding on a particular highway, and Kahekili certainly qualifies as a raceway, then it's not expected," said Capt. Harry Auld, executive officer for HPD's Windward District IV. "We don't have any hard and fast rules about it."
Drivers may want police "to have the lights rotating and our sirens on" so that they have more than ample warning to slow down, but it shouldn't matter whether police are watching or not, he said.
"Motorists should be driving carefully and observing all the rules of the road -- the speed limit -- whether there is an officer there or not," Auld said.
Kahekili is a known speeding area, so officers normally "are patrolling aggressively."
In the first case you cited, the officer was driving in to work and not yet on duty, although, "technically, we're on duty 24 hours a day," Auld said.
Be warned that police are using unmarked black Camaros -- "stealth vehicles" -- in covert operations to catch speeders along such areas as the Pali Highway.
"The public should be aware that we're always out there, although we might be not so obvious or unseen," Auld said.
MahaloTo the people who aided me on Easter Sunday, when my car stalled in the middle of Kalanianaole Highway. I was truly blessed with your help in pushing my blue Civic off the road and with the use of a phone. -- Jodi L. Kimura
Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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