Common sense guides police at picket lines
Regarding the question in the Jan. 9 "Kokua Line" about police officers at strike scenes: The answer that officers on duty "receive instructions on staffing strike posts" really does not answer the questions. Can the police spokesman elaborate so that the public can have a better understanding of what police can and cannot do to help the public enter and leave the parking lot?
Answer: It's up to picket captains at each site to call for "breaks" in picketing.
"However, if there's a traffic backlog, the officer (stationed at the site) will start calling the breaks," explained Lt. Kent Harada, who was the liaison between the Honolulu Police Department and the management of Times Supermarket and the employees' union.
The workers stopped picketing last week, although the contract dispute had not been settled as of yesterday.
As far as how many vehicles are allowed to pass through or how many "circuits" picketers can make before a break is called, in general, "We don't set a number," Harada said.
However, picketers are not allowed "shuffle steps" -- walking very slowly.
If that happens, "Officers will warn the picketers to pick up the pace, and if they don't, they can be subject to citation or arrest," Harada said.
When it comes to emergency vehicles, "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. (Picketers) are supposed to quickly clear the roadway if there is a firetruck or ambulance. That's common sense," he said.
"That's about it" when it comes to staffing a picket line.
Harada emphasized that police "don't take sides; we're there to ensure the safety of picketers and the public and enforce the law in an impartial manner."
As a whole, he said there were no major problems during the latest Times picketing. He also said picketers were good in communicating where picket lines would be set up, allowing HPD time to "schedule accordingly."
In a previous column ("Kokua Line," Dec. 14, 1999), we explained that picketing, a labor activity regulated by the National Labor Relations Act, is exempt from the petty misdemeanor charge of second-degree criminal trespass.
To "A Friendly Samaritan," who left a note on our car's windshield in December, informing us that our car key was left in the trunk's keyhole. We were parked in a handicap parking stall at Waikele Outlets, and after doing some shopping, I helped my disabled husband store things in the trunk. I unknowingly left the keys dangling when we left to go to Borders. When we returned, we found the good Samaritan's note: "Your key was left in your trunk. It is at Borders." Our sincerest appreciation for the good deed. The car could have been broken into or even driven away by anyone. May God bless this person. We hope other senior citizens will not let this happen to them. -- A Pair of Grateful 80-year-old Citizens
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