Downtown and
Waikiki foot patrols
rolling again

Area residents and merchants
are eager for police assistance
in cutting back crime

Honolulu acting police Capt. Frank Fujii remembers hitting the streets as a rookie on the "fourth watch" patrolling Waikiki on foot.

It wasn't exactly an auspicious start.

"We're thrilled that they're back. Maybe now the criminals will see them walking down the street and not come back."

Lynne Matusow
Downtown Neighborhood Board chairwoman

"I remember my first case was a jewelry theft from a kiosk at International Marketplace," Fujii said. "I had to go back to that merchant three or four times to ask questions just to fill out the police report.

"That wasn't the best way to do it back then."

It was called the fourth watch because it was the additional shift tacked on to the regular three with police recruits fresh from the academy on their first few weeks. Police intended to increase police presence on the street as a way to discourage criminals.

The practice ended in the late 1980s because of staff shortages, and police said it was not a good idea to throw unprepared recruits onto the streets of Waikiki and Chinatown.

Starting this week, however, the fourth watch is back, only this time, HPD is having recruits finish their 16 weeks of field training with experienced officers first before heading out on their own.

Patrols once again started up in Chinatown and Waikiki yesterday as part of an initiative by police Chief Boisse Correa.

"Foot patrol officers have a closer relationship with the public," said Kevin Lima, District 1 (Central Honolulu) commander and acting major, whose command includes the Chinatown area. "And this time, the officers are already certified to be out on their own.

"I'm confident we've trained them enough that they'll be able to address any concerns that merchants and pedestrians have."

Fort Street mall security guard Fred Austin said he's seen it all in the two years he's been walking the beat downtown. Armed with only a cell phone, he does what he can, but often the verbal warnings he's allowed to give just aren't enough to get people to stop what they're doing.

"Panhandling, alcoholism, drugs, urination, defecation, fights, shoplifting," Austin said. "Basically disobeying all the rules of the mall."

"It's frustrating. ... Nine times out of 10, it's very frustrating."

Downtown Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Lynne Matusow said residents have been asking for police to return to their foot patrols for several years now. Police said their downtown patrols will extend from Merchant to Beretania streets, and from Bishop to River streets.

"We're thrilled that they're back. Maybe now the criminals will see them walking down the street and not come back," she said. "The drug dealers have basically taken over Pauahi Street and are there night and day."

"And then there's the 'ladies of the night' on Kukui Street. ... I've seen them approach couples and people with children."

Hawaii Pacific University senior Chris Wong said he just heard the news yesterday about the police patrols.

"I'm grateful because usually when the cops get here, they're too late," he said.

"And it's been getting worse."

Officer Greg Arrell just graduated from the academy last October and said he's looking forward to meeting people and getting to know people in the area.

"Just try to meet the merchants and business owners ... see what kind of problems they got," Arrell said.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge. ... The stories I've heard from the old-timers said their days in fourth watch were the best of their career."

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