State, city need to clear up law enforcement at palace
Questions have been raised about police response in the attempt by a group to take over the historic landmark.
Jurisdictional issues frequently stand in the way of action by government authorities, but when someone is being assaulted, Honolulu Police Department officers are obligated to respond no matter where the offense is occurring.
In the wake of a second disturbance at Iolani Palace since April, it is imperative that state and city officials work cooperatively and remove territorial boundaries that are meaningless when it comes to preventing harm to people and the historic landmark.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has been conducting public hearings on rule changes for protecting the palace it oversees. Still, the agency should have had heightened measures in place in the interim.
Police Chief Boisse Correa should explain his assessment that his department's response, or lack thereof, was "appropriate," and fully disclose the findings of an internal investigation he has ordered.
Gov. Linda Lingle -- who told the Star-Bulletin she had talked with Correa about jurisdictional issues after the April incident but "sort of let it pass at the time" -- needs to revive that discussion. She, too, should make public the results of an attorney general probe and describe how the state intends to proceed.
A palace employee was injured, fortunately not seriously, after a Maui group identifying itself as the Kingdom of Hawaii, Nation, chained gates and tried to take over the palace last week. The employee said that when she went to talk with group members, three people began to slam a gate on her and that when she called for help to a police sergeant standing nearby, he told her it was out of his jurisdiction, apparently because the palace is on state grounds.
In addition, palace officials say when they called 911, they were denied police assistance. HPD did not respond until state public safety officers requested it.
Palace officials said no artifacts were damaged, but the only official state residence of royalty in the United States remains vulnerable. It has been the site of protests by Hawaiians seeking sovereignty and native rights for years, though most have been respectful of the grounds and palace interiors.
On April 30 a group called the Hawaiian Kingdom Government blocked entry into the palace grounds, but the incident ended peacefully with the group given permits to occupy a section of lawn during daytime hours.
Divisions of authority between the state and counties have resulted in tiresome bureaucratic delays in getting things done. However, road repairs and stream cleanups are not the same as law enforcement and public safety and should not be subject to a "not our job" attitude.