FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Members of the Honokai Hale/Nanakai Gardens neighborhood patrol gather around a golf cart donated by Kapolei Property Development. Patrol co-coordinator Barbara Gaboya was among those gathering at Kamokila Park recently to start the patrol. CLICK FOR LARGE
Citizens on cart patrol
Donated golf carts make it easier for seniors to scout around their community
A neighborhood watch group made up mostly of seniors is getting around a lot easier on patrol of the Honokai Hale and Nanakai Gardens subdivisions now that they are fully motorized.
With the donation of a $3,000 golf cart from Kapolei Property Development in February, the Citizens on Patrol group now has three carts that "make it much easier" to cover twice the ground in half the time, said coordinator Barbara Gaboya. Two other carts were given earlier this year by private donors.
Longtime members of the Citizens on Patrol group of the Honokai Hale/Nanakai Gardens Community Association, whose ages range from 46 to 73, include Mel Barroga, Steve Pagador, Virgil and Nellie Nagrampa, Grace Ramos, Jon Corvera, Rose Salud, Fred Bautista, Ed Gabriel, Trudy Clarabal, Stacie Pahia, Denver Kesner, Henry Cabunoc and David Gaboya.
Kapolei Property Development was also instrumental in organizing C.O.P. and donated its bright yellow logo T-shirts and a copying machine, she said.
Kapolei Property is an affiliate of the James Campbell Co., which built the city of Kapolei, and is helping because the two subdivisions "are our neighbors" and wanted to help them "take back (their) community from crime," said Theresia McMurdo, public affairs vice president.
McMurdo saw drug dealing in the parking lot of Kamokila Park. "It looked like a drive-through for McDonald's for drugs, people going in and out in broad daylight," she said.
Gaboya said the neighborhood also had problems with homeless people and drug addicts living in their cars, and a profusion of stripped, abandoned cars. "People were afraid to send their kids out to the bus stops," she said.
Now that the patrol can cruise the streets on wheels, members with leg problems are able to cover the whole route, Gaboya added. (The group consists of about 15 regulars, but not everyone shows up on varying nights twice a week, so three carts are enough.)
It used to take more than an hour to walk the hilly neighborhood of 285 homes; with the carts it takes 45 minutes, she said.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The neighborhood patrol at Honokai Hale/Nanakai Gardens, located between Kapolei and Nanakuli, is aided by a new donated golf cart. Here, during a recent patrol, David Gaboya checks a vacant lot for any suspicious activity. CLICK FOR LARGE
"It's more fun to ride," said member Henry Cabunoc, who has lived in Honokai for 35 years and knows how to service the carts.
Each cart has a twirling yellow light on its canopy, and the doors and front ends are emblazoned with the logo "C.O.P.," which makes some people think they are the police, Cabunoc said. He laughs when recalling how cars have fled the scene "when they see us coming."
The patrol group is greeted by friendly waves and barking dogs throughout the neighborhood. Everybody on the patrol "grew up here; everybody knows each other," Cabunoc said. "We have every street memorized."
Gaboya said patrolling has led to the busts of four drug houses, the removal of more than 90 abandoned cars and a decrease in car break-ins and home burglaries. The patrol's regular presence has acted as a deterrent to crime because "they (suspects) don't like to be watched," she added.
"We never confront them (suspects)," so none of the C.O.P. members has ever come to any harm. They were told by the police to just call 911 and report the suspicious activity, she added.
Lorraine Martinez, president of the neighborhood association, said, "The police are doing the best they can, but there are not enough police officers. We have to be their eyes and ears."
Honolulu police officer Marc Thom, a liaison who has worked with the group since its inception, said, "They have done a phenomenal job."