Tuesday, April 3, 2001


Hawaii State Seal

Police plan
limited role
during strike

County departments
hope to keep overtime
low if teachers picket

By Nelson Daranciang

County police departments plan to limit the number of personnel they would have to put on overtime for a possible teachers strike by assigning nonpatrol officers to strike posts.

"If it's a long and enduring strike, it's going to be unforgiving on our allotted overtime budget," said Kekuhaupio Akana, deputy police chief of Maui County. Akana said detectives, narcotics, vice, school and community policing officers will be assigned strike duty.

At least 250 public schools statewide will be affected by a strike. Six charter schools, three schools for deaf and blind students, an orthopedic unit and one for severely handicapped students are not expected to be affected, said Greg Knudsen, Department of Education spokesman.

In addition, Kainalu Elementary in Kailua is on break until the end of this week. Students in one of three multitrack schedules at Mililani Middle are on break until April 16.

And students on another track at Holomua Elementary in Ewa are on break until April 18.

Following discussions with the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Kauai police have identified 12 schools where they plan to post officers in case of a strike. The union told police they do not plan to picket at the other schools on the island, Deputy Police Chief Wilfred Ihu said.

Honolulu police are not as lucky.

"Right now, we just plan to monitor all the schools and see if they pose a traffic problem or safety problem," said Assistant Chief Stephen Watarai. "If they pose a threat to property or life, then we plan to post officers."

He said the union has not indicated which schools they plan to picket, so "we have no idea" how many schools will require a police presence.

And if all of the schools are closed for the first two days of a strike, as Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu had announced, then there would be no need to post officers at any of the schools, Watarai said. "We're just playing a wait-and-see game."

Big Island police Chief James Correa yesterday urged motorists to use caution because of the possibility of increased pedestrian traffic around schools if a strike occurs.

>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site

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