Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, November 4, 1998

Tight customs checks
are required, official says

I recently arrived back from a trip to Asia. At Honolulu Airport, Customs inspectors singled me out and went through my belongings as if I were a suspicious character. I am a respectable citizen, have never carried anything illegal or been treated this way. Of course, they didn't find anything. But this was very insulting. Why would Customs inspectors do this to me?

"Unfortunately, no one wants to be stopped and we understand that," said Naomi Ferreira, Passenger Service Representative for the U.S. Customs Service in Honolulu.

Basically, you shouldn't take it personally. In fact, you may have been "singled out" randomly, not because of any suspicions, as part of a Customs compliance examination program to check passengers every 15 minutes.

"It's nationwide and we're focusing on low-risk individuals," Ferreira said.

But first, we'll have her explain what will flag out some people.

One is the Customs declaration, which you indicated was not the source of your problem. However, just because you don't declare something doesn't mean officials may not have follow-up questions.

"Depending on (people's) responses, written or when we're talking to them, we decide to ask a few more questions," Ferreira said.

"And when you talk about how they look, it's not that someone looks suspicious," she said. "But if someone is trying to rush out the door, you don't know if they are smuggling heroin or need to use the bathroom. We try to be scientific, but at the same time, there is a certain art to it."

On top of that, there is the compliance examination program, where people are questioned to see whether or not they are in compliance, Ferreira said. Suspicion isn't involved.

The compliance program was set up to verify that "the people we're not looking at we shouldn't be looking at," Ferreira said.

"If you never look at certain people, there is no way of knowing if they are, indeed, compliant."

If travelers have any questions or complaints, they should ask to speak to a passenger service representative or supervisor in the area immediately, she said.


When I called the Hawaiian Humane Society, they told me if a dog is barking for a half hour or more to call 911. They said police could then call them with a report and they would be able to cite the owner. I didn't want to call the police, but the problem became too much and I couldn't take it anymore. So I called 911 and was told police were too busy to take that kind of call and that I should call the humane society. So who am I supposed to call to complain about a barking dog?

You're supposed to call the humane society. Spokeswoman Eve Holt said you were given the wrong information.

When someone complains about a barking dog, the HHS will first send a letter to the owner.

That's sometimes enough to take care of the complaint, Holt said. "If we do get a second complaint, we will meet with the owner, counsel them and then monitor for the violation."

Your name will be kept confidential, but you are asked to leave a name and number so that you can be kept informed of the situation and help, if necessary, in monitoring, Holt said.

She noted that the HHS last year handled 1,924 barking dog complaints.



To the man feeding wild pigs in Palolo Valley. These pigs have lost their fear of people and are destroying our yards and scaring children. Either pen them up or stop feeding them so they will go back up into the mountains where they belong. -- C.L.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin