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Here's what government officials and nonprofits say about crime, homelessness in Waikīkī

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Government officials and nonprofits hosted a “Safety in Waikīkī” town hall last week as part of an effort to mitigate crime and homelessness in the area.

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The “Safety in Waikīkī” Town Hall virtual event on Thursday, May 26. Waikīkī legislators, city officials and community partners discussed public safety and homelessness.

Burglaries, car break-ins and assaults have all picked up in the last few months in Waikīkī.

Despite crime trending upward, Honolulu Police Department Major Randall Platt says this activity is just returning to pre-pandemic levels.

"COVID year numbers are an anomaly. When we talk about rising crime, you know, that crime is rising, crime is rising, it is. Crime numbers are going up in 2022 as we emerge from the pandemic and return to our normal work and play lives, so in a sense, they're rising, but we're kind of coming back to normal," Platt said.

Platt says HPD has been using its PEACE initiative, which stands for Proactive Enforcement Against Criminal Elements. PEACE starts with outreach to the houseless community and increased police activity.

"We go out and we try and provide services to the homeless. Outreach and education is important. But sometimes they're not going to be receptive to it," he said. "So the second thing, second step to that is strict enforcement of rules and regulations."

Waikīkī and the surrounding East Honolulu areas have seen an increase in homelessness, too, according to the most recent Point-in-Time counts.

Nonprofits and city partners have been trying to help by offering more services, like increasing shelter capacity and providing mental health care.

Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm says more can be done. He says the Weed and Seed strategy is slated to begin in Waikīkī, similar to what has been used in Chinatown to weed out criminal offenders

"Many of the chronically homeless have mental health and or drug and alcohol problems. And many folks in that situation on the street, like in Chinatown, just don't want services," Alm said.

"So if they accept services, that's great. But if they don't, they often end up getting arrested by HPD. And we have worked out some really good strategies for the folks who've been arrested in order to get those homeless folks off the street and to provide services," he added.

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