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Chinatown police signage needs work, group says


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POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Chinatown business association is pushing to get better signage for the Honolulu Police Substation.

The sign on the substation is so small that not everyone sees it, and it is in English, which many Chinese-speaking people in the neighborhood cannot read.

The Chinatown Business and Community Association is pressing for the station's glass frontage to be painted with red Chinese characters as well as English letters, said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, association president.

In the Chinatown Historic District, with so many people speaking Chinese, “;the signs should be in Chinese. They should have done that 11 years ago”; when the station first opened at Maunakea and Hotel streets, she said. Street signs have already been made bilingual.

The existing sign is small and hung below the eves of the building to conform to Historic District guidelines, Shubert-Kwock explained.

Shubert-Kwock said her group, which started in March, and the Arts District Merchants Association are awaiting approval by the Honolulu City Council of her gift of $1,500 for the signage.

“;We don't have the money yet, but I'm willing to pay for it myself”; and hope to be reimbursed through fundraising, she said.

Plans call for painting Chinese characters on the right side of the glass door and side window, and English lettering on the left glass door and left side window. New street signs have also been requested to direct the public to the station.

The group, whose project is supported by the Honolulu Police Department, also hopes the Chinese signage will “;promote a sense of pride ... and closer relationship between the community and the police.”;

The Chinatown Business and Community Association wants residents and employees in Chinatown to feel that “;this is our police station, that the police are here to work for us. In the past when people try to report a crime, police don't know what they're talking about because they don't speak English.”;

Many Chinese nationals also associate police with those in China, where “;the police are thought of as corrupt,”; she said. The group wants the community to feel “;we should report crime and be the eyes and ears for the police.”;

In turn the association is hoping “;the policemen will feel they belong here and these are the people we protect,”; Shubert-Kwock added. The group is also working toward getting more Asian-speaking officers, and asks that “;police be a little patient with people who don't speak English.”;

The group is planning a station rededication ceremony in early spring and is seeking a lead sponsor and other donors, she said. Shubert-Kwock can be contacted via e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).