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Police increase patrols to ease Chinatown fears


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POSTED: Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mayor Mufi Hannemann says crime is not out of control in Chinatown, but the city has tripled police patrols to calm resident's fears.

               

     

 

OPERATION CHINATOWN ALERT INITIATIVES

        » Larger police presence
       

» Increased city cooperation with social services to help the homeless and seniors

       

» Extra sidewalk and street cleaning

       

» City-sponsored activities

       

» A trouble hot line, 768-6800

       

Source: Mayor's Office

       

 

       

CHINATOWN COMMUNITY-BUILDING EVENTS

        » Today, 10 a.m.: Chinatown Business & Community Association's rally and march. Wear red and meet at Kekaulike Mall.
       

» April 23, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.: ”;Taking Back the Streets,”; city sign-waving and cleanup campaign. Meet at Smith-Beretania Park with homemade signs.

       

» April 24, 6 p.m.: Community Policing Info Session. Beretania Neighborhood Park, multipurpose room, 1290 Aala St. For information, contact Capt. Robert Imoto at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 529-3602.

       

» May 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: City-sponsored Chinatown community meeting at Mission Memorial. For information, contact Alenka Remec at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 768-4249.

       

» Ongoing: help monitor security cameras at Chinatown police substation. For info, contact Maj. Clayton Saito at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 529-3386.

       

 

       

“;We are on top of it,”; he said at a news conference at Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park. “;I want to basically calm everybody down. We're in a good place.”;

“;Come back to Chinatown,”; he added. “;The businesses need your help.”;

Hannemann unveiled plans yesterday to improve the neighborhood's safety and cleanliness. His initiatives include more police, an additional cleaning crew, a hot line for the neighborhood and possibly more cameras and lighting.

“;We are dedicating our efforts to ensure Chinatown continues to be a very special place in our community,”; he said.

Hannemann said he hoped to dispel the misperception that things are out of control in the historic neighborhood. He said the city will also focus on helping agencies that work with the homeless population.

The initiatives come after a 35-year-old man was gunned down on March 28 and a 32-year-old man was stabbed almost a week later, allegedly in retaliation for the shooting. Police said the attacks were part of a gang turf war over drug dealing.

Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa said police are working with federal and state agencies to control gang activity, which has gone underground since patrols increased.

The police initiative will not cost any more money and will not reduce safety in other neighborhoods, Correa said.

Two other initiatives are the new trouble hot line for Chinatown, 768-6800, which will be open during normal business hours, and extra street and sidewalk cleaning, starting on April 23.

Hannemann said the city will look into more cameras, in addition to the 26 in the area that monitor activity on the street and feed into the Chinatown police substation, and better lighting. He asked private businesses to install their own bright lights to help deter crime for now.

Chinatown residents praised the city's plans.

Barbara Hao, a 10-year Chinatown resident, said it is the biggest single push she has seen to clean up crime in the neighborhood.

“;We love it,”; Hao said. “;It's exactly what (the community) wanted.”;

;[Preview]  Mayor, Police Assure Better Chinatown Safety
 

Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Honolulu police are urging residents and visitors to continue to visit Chinatown, citing increased police presence and added surveillance.

Watch  ]

 

Chinatown residents have been raising concerns about the crime problem in Chinatown before the recent violence. At a neighborhood board meeting in February, several businesses complained about increased drug use and fights near Bethel Street.

Police said they responded by focusing their presence in that area.

In mid-March the Chinatown Business and Community Association held a march against drug dealing and homelessness in Chinatown. Last Sunday, following the alleged gang-related attacks near River and Pauahi streets, the association demanded more city action. The group will hold another rally in Chinatown today at 10 a.m.

Chinatown police Maj. Clayton Saito said the increased police presence will continue as long as possible.

Police statistics, however, show crime rates in Chinatown are actually lower this year compared with last year, he said.

“;Perception is crime is up,”; he said. “;In reality, I don't believe that's the way it is.”;

Downtown Neighborhood Board member Carl Middleton said the extra police presence will stop criminals from gaining a foothold.

“;Right now everything is on edge,”; he said. “;There's a whole bunch of (police). They're all over. I feel more safe now.”;