Wahiawa countering prostitution
Patrols, more lights and cordoned-offBy Harold Morse
driveways are some of the ideas to
drive away prostitutes
For the past several weekends, Ben Acohido and some of his neighbors have taken to the streets to shoo prostitutes out of their area.
Since they started, "there's been a reduction of (prostitution) activity on the street," said Acohido, chairman of the Wahiawa Neighborhood Board who acts as a private citizen on the patrol.
It's not a matter of confrontation, he said. "We make our presence felt on the sidewalk and on the corners," he said. "We're standing on our corner and trying to regain the safety of the street."
The anti-prostitution drive in Wahiawa gained momentum last month when the Neighborhood Board empowered Acohido to approach various agencies to help counter it.
At the recent board meeting, Acohido relinquished the chair to board member Yoshiro Nakamura and spoke from the floor. Acohido said that he and other residents initiated the neighborhood patrol, and landlords, state Sen. Robert Bunda, state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, one female resident and others have taken part. Prostitutes encountered were mostly males dressed as females, he said.
They witnessed what appeared to be a mix of military and civilians, cruising in cars and eyeing prostitutes, Acohido said. They also saw drivers bringing in prostitutes and dropping them off at Mango Street, he said.
Acohido also called for bringing property managers and property owners into the effort. Cordoning off darkened driveways to keep prostitutes out and improved lighting also discourage streetwalkers, he said.
"This is a social problem, so a letter will be sent to the Wahiawa Ministers Association," Acohido said.
He and others met with Wahiawa clergy and social workers at Wahiawa Hospital the weekend of Oct. 24 to discuss offering spiritual assistance to prostitutes. This hopefully can help make education and spiritual support available to them, Acohido said.
He also called for looking into a prostitute-free zone for Wahiawa. "That ordinance is hung up because of some jurisdictional technicality between state law and county ordinance," he said.
At a recent board meeting, police officer Carl Medeiros said there were four arrests in Wahiawa last month for prostitution -- three along Wilikina Drive Nov. 5 involving individuals aged 16, 18 and 34 and one along Mango Street Nov. 6 involving a 42-year-old.
"We -- the residents of Walker Avenue -- we're not great in numbers, and so we're asking the community and perhaps asking through the neighborhood board that the city and county put (in) high-intensity lights," Acohido said.
Lighting up dark places will help curtail prostitution and improve the image of Wahiawa, Acohido said.
"All we need is about two high-intensity lights," he added. "If you asked me what can we do, all we're asking for is community support."