Jan. 15—A recent rash of violent crimes in Waikiki has some residents ready to call in the National Guard, especially in the wake of a well-publicized labor shortage at the Honolulu Police Department.
A recent rash of violent crimes in Waikiki has some residents ready to call in the National Guard, especially in the wake of a well-publicized labor shortage at the Honolulu Police Department.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Kathryn Henski proposed the idea at Tuesday's monthly meeting, where the subject of crime dominated the discussion.
"We have a National Guard. Could we utilize them to enforce the laws temporarily if that's what it takes ?" Henski asked. "Let's do something to help our city. Let's fix the problem."
Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters said he "loved " the National Guard idea and would discuss it with Mayor Rick Blangiardi, as he believes a consistent law enforcement presence is the best deterrent to crime. Waters pointed out that Fort DeRussy, a federal military installation in Waikiki, does not seem to attract as many troublemakers as Kuhio Beach.
"It is a novel idea but with 300 police officers short, maybe this is an emergency, " Waters said.
Hawaii Army National Guard Mayor Jeffrey Hickman said neither the Hawaii National Guard nor the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency have been contacted, and the Mayor's Office has not made a proclamation.
"What we set up here in Hawaii is that the counties own disasters first. If they do not have the resources necessary, the mayors can raise their hands and ask the (governor and HI-EMA ) for help, thus the Hawaii National Guard would be activated on State Active Duty to assist the mayor on a particular issue, " Hickman said.—RELATED :
Blangiardi's spokesperson Scott Humber said the request is a nonstarter for the mayor.
"For the National Guard to be called in would require the Governor to issue a state of emergency. We are nowhere near that point, " Humber said in an email. "The last thing the Mayor wants is military personnel patrolling an iconic tourist destination."
Honolulu Police Chief Arthur "Joe " Logan said activating the Hawaii National Guard "in response to a few highly publicized incidents would be an overreaction and ill-advised use of guard personnel. While there have been several highly publicized crimes in Waikiki over the past 12 months, arrests have been made in all but the most recent incident, which is an ongoing investigation."
Hawaii has previously utilized the National Guard to augment security forces in Waikiki—albeit under different circumstances.
Members of the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard were called in to supplement the HPD's security and traffic control teams in Waikiki during the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit attended by then-President Barack Obama. The Hawaii National Guard also played a key role in Hawaii's COVID-19 airport screenings in the earliest months of the pandemic.