Kokua Line
June Watanabe

HPD focused on
deterring fireworks

Question: In the grassy area of Kapiolani Park adjacent to the Waikiki Natatorium, the morning after the Fourth of July, there was a woman from a nearby residence seen picking up a lot of rubbish from fireworks-related items, etc. I do not know her name nor how often she does this, but it looked like she didn't want anyone to get hurt from any debris left in the grass. There were illegal fireworks in this public park. Was someone actually arrested there around 9-10 p.m. last Monday?

Answer: No one was cited nor arrested for any fireworks violations -- in Kapiolani Park or any other public park or property on Oahu -- on the Fourth of July, said Capt. Frank Fujii, spokesman for the Honolulu Police Department.

That's even though HPD responded to 454 calls about fireworks-related violations this year. That was a 58 percent increase in calls over July 4, 2004, Fujii said. There was no breakdown as to where the reports came from.

"We chose just to ask people to stop for safety reasons," he said about police response.

Part of the reason is that police cannot cite anyone for a violation unless they actually witness it, he said. So although there might be evidence of a lot of illegal fireworks use, unless someone is caught in the act, police can't do anything.

Instead, police issued warnings to people, Fujii said.

"Most people will stop when they see the (police) uniform," he said. "The main thing is that there is a deterrence."

There was ample evidence that many people were unconcerned about the law prohibiting fireworks use in public parks.

Workers at Ala Moana Park said illegal fireworks use was worse this year than in the past, said Craig Mayeda, chief of the city Department of Parks and Recreation's Maintenance and Recreation Service.

Workers on duty that night "couldn't control the fireworks" usage, he said. "Police were there," but that apparently did not deter those bent on setting them off.

Mounds of trash left on the ground by picnickers -- despite workers being on hand to empty trash containers that night -- were compounded by fireworks debris.

In Ala Moana's case, "we did a very large cleanup," involving prison inmates and volunteer groups, Mayeda said.

There was not as much trash at Kapiolani Park, but there were "a lot of burn areas" apparently caused by fireworks, he said.

Q: I read about free computer classes being given on Saturdays for senior citizens. Where do they do that?

A: The free computer classes, which started in June, will be offered at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on the following Saturdays: July 16, 23 and 30, and Aug. 6 and 13, at Carole Kai Charities Inc., 418 Kuwili St., Suite 102, Iwilei.

The classes are being taught by Great Aloha Run volunteers.

Call Rene Mansho at 306-1876 to reserve a spot.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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