Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Security eases
at local facilities

Police are less visible, but
pre-Sept. 11 access is likely
gone for good

By Nelson Daranciang

Security at most government and public facilities will probably never return to pre-Sept. 11 levels, but it is showing signs of easing.

Honolulu police are making themselves less visible while maintaining the same level of security they put in place at key city facilities after Sept. 11, said HPD Assistant Police Chief Boisse Correa.

"The threat levels have come down," he said.

Likewise, the FBI's latest alert on a possible terrorist attack had little noticeable effect on security measures by Honolulu police and the military in Hawaii. Monday's alert did prompt additional security measures but did not require raising the threat level, said Correa.

After talking with federal agencies and the military, Honolulu police determined that the threat "wasn't localized to the islands," he said.

Correa said threat levels have come down, and there still is heightened security at city facilities, but "how we do it is different."

Instead of using officers for a visible security presence, he said, police are focusing more on planning, training and intelligence. "We're still vigilant and concerned," he said.

Motorists entering the underground parking garage at the HPD Alapai Headquarters are no longer stopped for identification checks. And officers are no longer stationed at Honolulu Board of Water Supply facilities, where camera systems have been installed.

"We haven't compromised safety. We always have our security measures in place," said Denise DeCosta, Board of Water Supply spokeswoman.

The city also has stopped requiring people to sign in before entering Honolulu Hale.

"We stopped it for Honolulu City Lights," on Correa's advice, said Carol Costa, city spokeswoman.

However, the private security guards hired to watch the entrances to city hall have been retained and now patrol inside Honolulu Hale.

People entering the Honolulu Municipal Building must still sign in. And police vehicles are still positioned at key entrances to the Prince Kuhio Federal Building.

The changes by Honolulu police follow the easing of security alert levels at some military installations on Oahu.

"The Force Protection Condition we're in is Alpha-plus," said Maj. Stephen Clutter, Hickam Air Force Base chief of public affairs.

Alpha is the lowest level of security alert. The next higher levels are Bravo and Charlie. Immediately following Sept. 11, all military installations were ordered to the highest level of security alert or Force Protection Delta. The other military services are not saying what their security alert levels are.

However, people should notice a change when entering Army installations, said Col. William R. Puttmann Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii.

"The force protection levels at our gates on Army installations will be adjusted to conform to current security needs," Puttmann said.

There will be fewer guards in housing areas, but a greater number of military police patrols. People without military identification are not able to enter Army installations freely, but will be able to receive one day passes.

The Navy said it continuously refines its security procedures to meet the appropriate level of protection for naval facilities and personnel.

Traffic into Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe is flowing more smoothly, not because of any changes, but because of efficiency in carrying out the security measures has increased, said Lt. Kent Robbins, Marine Corps spokesman.

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